Turning into a user researcher

I’ve officially been a user researcher for 6 months (and counting), before that I was a ‘Data Collection Methodologist”, and before that I was a Psychology student in Liverpool.

Liverpool is only only a short journey into the past, for now, 2 1/2 years ago I was pulling all nighters to complete my dissertation, titled ‘A themeatic anlaysis of the online communication of child sex offenders’ for my MSc in Investigative and Forensic Psychology. As you can see, I was pretty trendy back then knowing that ‘online’ and ‘digital’ were the things that needed researching. Never did I think that a couple years after reading through some pretty traumatic conversations to distiall patterns and behaviour would I be working at the Office for National Statistics, THE statisitcal office of the civil service and government (and living in South Wales).

Since leaving the kingdom of the north I’ve lost my northern accent, amongst other things, however I’ve learnt and discovered much more. My current career path exemplifies this fantastically. I am, fundamentally, doing what I set out to do when I moved onto pursuing a university education (apart from developing a stronger liver), and that is understanding people and why they do things! I had hopes before and during university that I would be able to apply myself to understanding why people do bad things, and in turn help those that do the good things in society.

Falling onto the user researcher path hasn’t changed much. The aim of my research is still to help people in society, ONS develops statistics that illustrate society every week, but just the focus of my research has moved. Instead of focusing on why people do bad things, I now question why do people come up against bad services. Much like when you were a kid at school, if you did the bad thing you got more attention, but doing the ‘right’ thing meant you didn’t need understanding.

This is my first blog post, I’m not sure how many people will read this (if I’m true to myself I hope not many as it feels like a diary entry) but I will endevour to blog about my expeiences of becoming a user researcher, who comes from a psychology background and works in research heavy government department. I’ll discuss what I’ve tried, what was good and what was bad.


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