ManyPrimates 1: Short-Term Memory

How to contribute?

ManyPrimates is a platform for promoting large scale collaboration and open science practices in primate cognition research. In this project (MP1) we investigate short-term memory across the primate order. As such, it is a continuation of our pilot study. We hope to increase the number of species* and individuals per species in order to make meaningful inferences about the evolution of short-term memory abilities in the primate lineage.

We are currently collecting data for this project!
Deadline to contribute data: May 26, 2020

(or until at least 20 species with 8 individuals per species)

1. Get in touch

The first step is to write an email to, stating how you would like to contribute. There are many different ways besides data collection to contribute to a ManyPrimates project and you can find details about the types of contributions in our authorship guidelines.

All data from the pilot study will be included. For this round of data collection, we therefore hope to include new subjects who have not been tested before. If you are planning to contribute new data, please state in your email the species and number of subjects per species you are planning to contribute and enter this information in this spreadsheet.

Make sure that our ethics guidelines apply to your site and obtain approval by your relevant ethics committee before you collect any data. If you have any questions about ethics or specific ethical constraints, please reach out to the coordination team before you start collecting data.

If you haven’t already, join our Slack workspace. Slack is a messaging tool we use for asking questions as well as for discussions.

2. Implement the setup and the procedure

We will create a dedicated folder for your test site that includes helpful templates and that you can use to submit your files to. One of these templates is for a short description of your site. Please fill it out before you start collecting data. If you contributed to an earlier study, review and update the description of your site.

Once you hear back from the coordination team, you can start to implement the procedure. Talk to the coordination team about board size and cup distance. We found a statistical effect of these measures in the pilot study. We think this was the case because it co-varied with species body size. In the current study (MP1) we therefore want to vary these elements more systematically.

Next, you should make a short video clip of the setup and the procedure. No need to have a (non-human) primate subject present for this. Here is an example of what such a video could look like. Upload the video to your site folder, and the coordination team will take a look at the video and give you feedback before you start data collection (we want to to make sure that there are no ambiguities and ensure consistency in how everyone collects data).

If pre-recording a video is not possible (e.g. because you work in a remote fieldsite), please get in touch with the coordination team to fully finalize your methods before data collection.

3. Collect the data

Now you can start collecting data! Your site folder includes a live scoresheet that automatically implements the counterbalancing constraints we have. The procedure also lists these constraints along with the minimum and maximum number of trials per subject. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the coordination team if something comes up during the data collection.

If your subjects have not participated in object choice studies before, here are some ideas for how to train them. Also, feel free to reach out to the coordination team if you have questions about how to train subjects.

4. Code and upload the data

Please use the datasheet template and instructions included in your folder to code your data. It’s really important that you only enter the kind of values that are in the template for each column. This will make merging the (hopefully many) datasets much easier. If something is unclear, please get in touch with the coordination team. You can either enter your data directly into the Google Sheets version online or you can download the Excel version, enter your data offline, and upload the spreadsheet back into your folder when you’re done.

At the end of data collection, don’t forget to get interobserver reliability coding for at least 20% of trials. The reliability coder should be naive with respect to the hypotheses of this study. If you are unsure how to run such interobserver reliability or have trouble finding someone to do reliability coding, get in touch with the coordination team.

ManyPrimates is committed to open science. That is, all our procedures and analysis are pre-registered. Furthermore, all data files and analysis scripts will be freely available in a public repository and all papers will be published in open access journals.

5. Contribute to analysis and writing

We hope you also contribute to the analysis and writing and you may do so even if you have not contributed data to this project. If you have ideas about what might drive the evolution of short-term memory abilities, submit your model(s) as part of the MP1 modeling challenge. If you want to be part of the analysis team, get in touch with the coordination team. If you want to contribute to writing, please enter your name in our write-up plan.

Here are some additional resources for the study:

Thank you for being one of Many Primates!

MP1 coordination team: Drew Altschul, Manuel Bohn, Lydia Hopper, Marine Joly, Christoph Völter, Julia Watzek

* We welcome data from any primate species, but we especially encourage people working with underrepresented species to contribute. For our current sample, this includes:

  • prosimians: in general, but non-lemurs especially
  • new world monkeys: non-Cebidae especially – e.g., callitrichids (marmosets, tamarins), Aotidae (night/owl monkeys), Pitheciidae (titis, sakis, uakaris), Atelidae (howler, spider, woolly monkeys)
  • old world monkeys: in general, but especially other than long-tailed macaques
  • apes: gibbons especially and great apes other than chimpanzees