Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the on the left to see the full answer to each question.


Watch introduction video

What is IRIS?

IRIS is a collection of instruments, materials, stimuli, and data as well as data coding and analysis tools used for second language research, broadly defined. Materials are freely accessible and searchable, easy to upload (for contributions) and download (for use and adaptation).

What kinds of materials can I find on / upload to IRIS?

IRIS contains hundreds of materials from all substantive/theoretical and methodological traditions of second language research. All types of materials are welcome and can be found.

Where is IRIS hosted? Who maintains the site?

IRIS is housed and maintained by the digital library staff at University of York. Everyday upkeep (e.g., following up on requests for materials) is provided by a small team of research assistants at York, whose positions are funded by a grant from the British Academy. Leadership of IRIS is provided by Emma Marsden, Alison Mackey (co-founder of IRIS in 2012), and Luke Plonsky who joined the project in 2015.

What is the difference between IRIS and other platforms or repositories for storing materials and data (e.g.,

Both IRIS and the Open Science Framework (OSF) (among others) are recognized and useful repositories holding instruments, protocols, data, analysis materials, and so forth. One key factor distinguishing IRIS from other platforms is its focus on second language research. This provides users with a discipline-specific search process and a set of search parameters designed to reflect L2 research needs. A second is the level of quality control that results from the requirement for materials on IRIS to have been peer-reviewed or part of a doctoral dissertation/thesis project. Other platforms, including the OSF, have no such requirement and can hold materials that are in-progress.

Why do some journals encourage authors to make their materials available on IRIS?

We see IRIS as contributing to a broad movement in academia as well as in industry toward more open science practices. The benefits of such practices are wide-reaching and, critically, allow scholars, research consumers, practitioners, policy makers, and other stakeholders in the scientific enterprise to place greater trust in science. It is not surprising, therefore, that dozens of applied linguistics journals now recommend that authors upload their materials to IRIS in their author guidelines and/or in acceptance letters. In addition, there are at least three further benefits to journals of engaging with IRIS. First, uploading materials to IRIS saves space in journals. Second, ease of access to materials facilitates subsequent work building on and/or replicating the original work, which yields citations to the journal where it was published. Third, increased visibility of materials increases the chances of the articles themselves being downloaded and cited - key performance indicators for journals.

What is the “badge” system and how is it connected to IRIS?

The Center for Open Science has developed a badge system that recognizes an author’s work that aligns with open science practices. Having such recognition alongside your article demonstrates that you are being fully transparent with your methods and that you are keen for others to do further work based on yours. There are three types of badges, each of which can appear on printed/PDF articles and other associated locations such as journal websites: (a) open materials (e.g., instruments), (b) open data, and (c) study pre-registration.

IRIS has been designated by the Center for Open Science as a recognized repository for open materials and open data.

This article provides evidence that badges help to promote open practice, both in terms of quantity (more people making more data and materials open) and in terms of the materials actually being available (rather than researchers saying they are available when in fact the materials are not on a sustainable platform).

Finally, these comments are corroborated by the experience of Language Learning. This journal, which has embraced the open science badges, has seen much greater uptake in submissions to IRIS in comparison with the prior practice of using just the acceptance letters to authors to encourage submissions to IRIS.


Watch upload demo video

Why should I take the time to upload my materials?

There are a few reasons. First, providing other researchers with access to your materials, instruments, and data allows for inspection by peers, which inspires confidence in our work. Second, by making you materials available, others can more readily build on them. Consequently, your research is more likely to have a greater impact on the field. Also, subsequent replications, which are in many ways the foundation for scientific advancement, are much more likely. And third, the second language research community is just that: a community. We believe that we will be more efficient and effective by working together. The IRIS Database provides a platform for such efforts.

Can I upload the materials for my doctoral dissertation / thesis?

Yes, materials from a doctoral dissertation or thesis are welcome. Materials from MA level work, though often very useful, are not eligible for inclusion.

Can I upload data or analysis protocols to IRIS?


When in the publication process can I upload my materials?

Once a study has been accepted for publication, the materials can be submitted to IRIS. Doing so earlier rather than later will often allow you to state in the manuscript that your materials are available on IRIS. However, materials from older publications are always welcome as well!

Can I upload materials for a study that has not been accepted or published yet?

No. Only materials from studies that have been published or accepted for publication can be uploaded.

Can I provide a link directly to my materials on IRIS?

Yes. Once you upload your materials, you will be able to get a unique URL for that record. This url address can then be linked from your website, from within an article or anywhere else.

How long does it take to upload my materials?

Uploading instruments or other materials to IRIS usually takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on how much information you want to provide in the “optional” fields. If you don’t have time, you can also simply send your materials to along with a full reference to the publication(s) in which they were used and any other information you’d like to be included in the entry.

I have several files; can I submit them all together?

If they are all essentially component parts of the same data collection tool, for example, several different picture files that were all used in a single spot-the-difference task, then you need only make one submission to IRIS - upload your files together, and complete the form to provide information on your instrument as a whole. IRIS can handle a mix of file types in the same submission. If you have separate instruments of a similar type, or used in the same publication(s), such as a grammaticality judgement task and a story-completion task used in the same study, then you will need to submit them one at a time. BUT PLEASE NOTE: the "Submit Similar" feature (see below) makes this process much quicker and easier. These are simply guidelines - ultimately, of course, you are free to separate and submit your files/instruments as you see fit. Please do not hesitate to contact IRIS for further help and support.

What is the "Submit Similar" button for?

This feature allows you to submit one or more additional instruments without needing to complete the whole submission form again. After entering information about your first instrument, clicking "Submit Similar" will enable you to review your previously completed form and choose to amend only those fields that differ for your subsequent instrument(s). Where instruments share several characteristics, such as an elicited imitation and a picture narration used in the same study, or a questionnaire in three different languages, the "Submit Similar" feature greatly simplifies the process of submitting several at once.

Can I edit my entry at a later date?

Yes, providing you login when you make your submission. If you previously submitted items before the login feature became available (around 2013), please contact the IRIS Team and we can help associate those submissions with your login. For further information about login, please see the login help page.

What file formats are accepted?

IRIS can accept audio, text, image and video files, in most common file formats or extensions, as well as specialist software scripts and links to internet sources. You will have the opportunity to specify any proprietary software or software platform that may be necessary in order to use your instrument.

If you experience a problem when selecting files to upload, this might be because your web browser is only displaying certain types of file by default. Please ensure you select 'All files' when using the select files box.

If you are experiencing technical problems uploading your file, or have a particularly large file to submit (1GB or more), please contact the IRIS team for assistance.

Is there a way to indicate that a set of materials was used for more than one study?

Yes, you can add multiple references to the same materials record. This can be done either when you first upload or at a later date.

My instrument uses or makes reference to other published work - do I need to acknowledge this?

You may wish to acknowledge other researchers who developed an earlier version of your instrument that you have built on/adapted in some way. There is a dedicated section on the submission form that allows you to do this. Likewise, your instrument may have been created using text, pictures or other material from another published source (part of a school textbook, for example, or an online video). In this case, please confirm that you have sought permission from the copyright holder to reproduce the material. The IRIS team is also willing to assist with such requests. If you have any enquiries related to permissions, please contact us. For more information on intellectual property issues, read our short guide to copyright.

Is it possible to find out when someone downloads my materials?

Yes! If you are interested in finding out when your materials are downloaded, you simply check a box during the upload process that indicates this preference.

Can I find out who has downloaded my instruments?

No. When people download materials IRIS requires them to leave their status (student, academic, teacher etc), and, if they wish, they can leave their email contact. However, the only information we provide to uploaders are their download statistics. This is in line with the principles of open access.

How can I see my download statistics?

You can see your download statistics under the "My IRIS" tab when you are logged into IRIS.

Can I get feedback on my instrument?

You will be able to choose whether or not you receive user feedback. Feedback can be posted on IRIS, so that others may benefit, or you may prefer to receive comments directly to your email inbox without them being on IRIS. Or you can choose not to get any feedback, of course.

If someone uses my materials, will the original work be cited?

Yes, because downloaders have to agree, on downloading, that they will cite the materials if they use them; this is the Creative Commons license that all materials are held under, as with most open repositories. That is, the licenses for all materials make ‘Attribution’ (i.e. citation) a requirement.

Researchers who use others’ materials may also contact the original authors; this might be collegial, and indeed helpful to those who are using the materials, as it might inform the study or avoid duplication of effort - but there is no requirement to do so.

How can my materials be used?

All materials are held under a Creative Commons licence that allows others to change or adapt them - this was one of the rationales behind IRIS, so that partial and conceptual replications etc. are facilitated. The licences also make ‘Attribution’ (i.e. citation) a requirement and prevent others from using the materials for commercial purposes.

The two different licenses available have just one slight difference: The default (already selected option) is ‘Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike’, meaning that others must give subsequent adaptations the same licence. This was the case for 1335 out of 1346 materials held at the time of writing. The other is ‘Attribution-Noncommerical’ which means that subsequent adaptations could be given a different licence.

Will sharing my materials lead to misuse of the materials?

We believe that greater transparency will only increase and improve our individual and collective efforts. More concretely, we know of zero instances of misuse of materials that have been uploaded to IRIS. And we find this record highly unlikely to change for a few reasons considering: (a) the generally very collegial community in second language research; (b) many journals and universities now use plagiarism detection software, and so uncited use of your materials would be picked up in this way; and (c) you can, if you wish, add notes to accompany your materials or upload additional documents that provide guidance about using your materials.

Will sharing my materials lead to my planned next project being ‘scooped’?

Research effort will be enhanced by working collaboratively with increased methodological transparency. We know of no instances of “scooping” of research ideas based on materials that have been uploaded to IRIS and we think this will continue in light of the very collegial second language research community. Also, it is highly unlikely that your materials would be used in exactly the same way as you were planning to use them again. Finally, but perhaps most importantly, we believe that it is important to make methods transparent for every published study (rather than after a series of studies has been completed, possibly over several years).

What is a ‘Special Collection’ and can I create one?

Special Collections bring together materials that share particular characteristics for the purposes of, or resulting from, a systematic review. There should be an associated peer-reviewed publication or a document held on IRIS to explain how the collection has been drawn together (e.g. the search criteria). To date, Special Collections have been made of self-paced reading tests and grammaticality/acceptability judgement tests. The Collections can be found via a button on the Search and Download page. Please contact us if you are interested in developing a special collection, e.g. to find out how to make the collection a searchable ‘unit’ of materials.


Watch search and download demo video

Can I modify materials from IRIS for my particular participants or setting?

Yes. All materials can be adapted - this was one of the rationales behind IRIS.

What if the materials I am looking for are not available on IRIS?

If the materials for a particular study that you are interested in are not available on IRIS, you can request them. To do so, click on the REQUEST MATERIALS button found on the homepage. From there you will be directed to a page where you can input the necessary information for IRIS to attempt to obtain the materials. We will then contact the author of the study to request their materials; we will also notify you once the materials have been added to the database.

Why are some materials labelled as “record only”? How can I see those materials?

“Record only” means that only the metadata are held on IRIS i.e. labels giving information about instrument type, research area, languages, the reference - not the actual materials yet. IRIS holds “record only” materials to provide a comprehensive documentation of methods in our field, and also to allow researchers to find as much as possible that matches their search.

The actual materials can be requested through IRIS! When you find a record of materials that you wish to request, you will see a REQUEST MATERIALS button on that record. Clicking on that button automatically populates the form for requesting those materials! (Or, as above, you can click on the the REQUEST MATERIALS button on the homepage and complete the fields yourself). We will then contact the author of the study to request their materials; we will also notify you once the materials have been added to the database.

Why am I asked to leave an email when I download an instrument?

You do not have to leave an email address to download from IRIS. If you choose to do so, however, your email address will not be made public. IRIS will simply send you a brief email in a few months with one question about whether/how you have used the material, just to give us feedback about use of the resource.