use of program

  1. System requirements

    1. To run QAParadigm, the computer system must have at least
      Java Runtime Environment 1.5

    2. QAParadigm makes effective use of multiple computer screens, or can be used with a single screen.

    3. Separate recording equipment is required. QAParadigm does no audio recording.

  2. Experiment setup

    1. Input text file consisting of numbered sentences. It

      • must have Unix line endings (line feed)
        not Mac (carriage return) and
        not Windows/DOS (carriage return+line feed)

      • must be Unicode (UTF-8) encoded

      The format of each line is

      decimal number + tab character + sentence

      Other lines are ignored. (There is a sample input file in the distribution doc directory.)

    2. Sound files corresponding to each sentence in the input text file.

      The sound files must be WAV files, named


      where n is the number of the associated sentence. They must be in the same directory as the input text file.

    3. Decide: Who operates the program? the experimenter, or the subject?

      If the experimenter operates the program, a second monitor can be used. Otherwise, the program may easily be operated by the subject.

    4. Recording equipment must be ready to record the subject’s responses

  3. Start the experiment

    1. Using the Open... item under the File menu, open the input text file

    2. Fill in information about subject

    3. Click Go...

      (The Display window should appear, showing first sentence)

    4. The Display window has a pop-up menu including settings for the font and font size. (In multiple-screen mode, the same menu appears on the main application window.)

    5. The Preferences... item under the File menu brings up a panel of operating preferences. From this, the operator can choose:

      • To randomize sentences (the default)

        In case the input file has been pre-randomized, the user may choose to turn this off.

      • Seconds to delay after playing a sound

        During this delay, a further sound can’t be played, and the displayed sentence can’t be advanced. The idea is to enforce a period of time in which the subject is to answer.

      • Display device

        If there are multiple screens attached to the computer, this number will specify which screen the display is to appear.

      The preferences settings are remembered from one run of the program to the next.

  4. Control of application

    (If it is necessary to pause at this point, use the Esc key.)

    1. Space bar plays the associated sound file, as many times as desired.

      There is a configurable delay after the sound finishes during which the Enter and Space keys are disabled.

      A progress bar shows how much time is left.

    2. Enter key goes to next sentence.

      (but the sound must be played at least once before going to the next sentence: otherwise they will get an error dialog)

    3. When the sentences are finished, a thank-you message appears.

    4. A further press of the Enter key closes the display window and brings back the main application window.

    At this point, the details about the subject remain in place, so another input file may now be opened, to do another experiment with the same subject.

  5. Control of display

    While the Display window is visible, a pop-up menu is available that controls the display.

    In multi-screen mode, a Display menu will appear in the application menu bar. In single-screen mode, the menu pops up from the Display window. (If you have a two-button mouse, right-click on the Display window. If you are using a Mac one-button mouse, hold down the command key and click.)

    The menu items Quit, Close window, Next sentence, and Play sound are described elsewhere or are self explanatory.

    The Prev sentence item returns the display to the previous sentence, and is to be used when some mistake has been made regarding the previous sentence. Its use is recorded in the log file.

    The Sentence number item brings up a dialog showing the current sequence number, as a convenience. This dialog can also be used to set the current sequence number.

    The Font item brings up a dialog showing all the fonts on the system that are capable of displaying all the sentences in the current input file. You can choose the font of your liking.

    You can also set the size of the font to your liking, but be aware that if you set it too big, some sentences may not fit in the Display window (which always shows only one line of text).

    The Size to fit button will find a size for the current font just small enough that all the sentences in the currently opened file will fit.

  6. Log files

    The log files primarily record which sentences, in what order, were presented to the subject.

    Log files are written into a sub-directory logs of the input text file’s directory, with a file name reflecting the subject’s name, followed by a time stamp. (If the subject name field is left blank, the log file name will begin with “anonymous“)

    A log file also records the subject information in the header, as well as a time stamp, and the file path to the input sentence file that was opened for the experiment.

    The log file columns, delimited by tab characters, are:

    sequence #	sentence #	millisec	sentence

    The sequence # is the index of the sentence among the randomized list of sentences. It will usually just increase. If the order of the sentences is altered (as by using the Previous sentence command), the change in order will be reflected in this column.

    The millisec column is the (approximate) number of milliseconds from the opening of the log file to the time the sentence is displayed. This is meant to aid with synchronization with recordings.

    The sentence # indicates which sentence was displayed and which sound played.

    The sentence column is a redundant indicator of the displayed sentence.


The program is very particular about the format and content of the input document. Several kinds of problems may arise from wrongly formatted input.

If when the input text file is opened, the Go... button is not activated, it means no numbered sentences were found. If no other error appears, it means the document was not formatted correctly.

When an input text file is opened, it is read, then its directory is scanned for sound files corresponding to the numbered sentences. If any is missing, the operator is warned and the display file is not opened.

Before opening the display window (with the Go... button), all the sentences are checked for support with system fonts. If no font on the system supports all characters in all the sentence, an alert window will come up, explaining in which sentence and which character, the problem is first recognized. If fonts are found that support all the sentences, by default, the first such font found by Java will be the one used.

If the text is displayed in nonsense characters, check that the input file is encoded as UTF-8. (It is possible that your text editor displays the characters correctly but doesn’t save the text as UTF-8.)

If a problem occurs with a single sentence, the left-arrow key can be used to go back in the sequence of sentences. All viewings of the sentence are recorded in the log file. The sequence number in the log file will show that the user backed up.

The current sequence number can be displayed from the display window pop-up menu. It can also be changed in this way, but the sense of the experiment may be altered by such action.

If the display window needs to be closed during an experiment, the Go button of the main window will re-start the same sequence from the last sentence whose sound has not played, so long as Open has not been used to open a new sentence file. A new log file will be started, with its sequence number continuing from the last in the previous log file.