ResearchOps Community: a series of global workshops

Kate Towsey
4 min readApr 5, 2018

The ResearchOps Community on Slack is now 500+ strong and growing. Since its creation just six weeks ago, the Slack has become a place for people from all walks of research and design life to exchange ideas, know-how, and, yes, frustrations, about the running of research teams and projects.

One of the most popular topics of conversation has centered around exploring what we mean by ‘ResearchOps’: what does it mean to operationalise research? Early on, the conversation inspired the forming of a global team of people who are now working together to take the conversation further, beyond Slack to in-person meetings.

What we’d like to do and achieve

In this post, we’ll share our plans to run a series of global workshops that we hope will:

  • give the community the opportunity to collectively explore what we mean when we say ‘ResearchOps’;
  • share knowledge and stories about how we’re doing ResearchOps today;
  • give us all the opportunity to express what we need and want from the ResearchOps Community;
  • and, last but not least, create spaces for us to get to know each other in-person too.

We plan that the workshops will help us form (at least the beginnings of) some kind of actionable framework for ResearchOps, and help set broad goals for our Community. Anything that we produce out of the workshops will be open-source: made by all who take part, shared back to you, and free to use.

We hope you’ll take part.

A global team

So far, our global team of workshop organisers covers nine countries/fourteen cities. We know we’re not covering the entire globe yet, so if you know of someone in any other part of the world who would be keen to organise a workshop (or if you’re keen), we’d love to hear from you. Our aim is to be as representative as possible.

Here’s a quick introduction to the team as it stands.

Places we’d love to include but haven’t got right yet. If you can help, please let us know.

  • Africa: We’ve got South Africa covered in Cape Town, but we’re hoping to find someone in North Africa to take part.
  • South America: We’ve got some leads, thanks to Chris from Mind the Product. Still, any help is welcome.
  • Other European countries: We’d love to cover more of Europe. Can you help?
  • Russia: We’ve got nothing yet.

How it’s going to work

Here’s an outline of our goals.

During April, workshop organisers are collaborating to produce a “workshop canvas” (inspired in part by the DesignOps Canvas) — a guide for organisers to use in running half-day workshops. We’re currently thinking about all the details, like the what, where, when and how. Once we’ve got something to share, we’ll circulate the canvas to get your feedback too. And once it’s complete, we’ll make the canvas freely available for anyone to use.

During May/June: Using the canvas, each organiser will run a workshop in their city, and we hope you’ll take part. Please note that these workshops will be free of charge; this is not a money-making initiative. Organisers will likely need help organising things; so, if you’re keen to get involved, please let your local organiser know.

During June, organisers will gather to collate and analyse the workshop data so we can share it back to the community. We’ll aim to come up with a thing (the data will define what this is, to some extent) that’s representative of the outcomes.

(It’s occurred to us that we’ll also end up with per country data that could be useful as a reference for people organising research internationally, and we’ll aim to make this data available and useful too. As with all things, as time and resources allow.)

In June/July, we’ll share the results back to the wider community. What we share will be open-source, so you can feedback on it, ask about it, take it, use it, work with it, do what you like with it.

The vibe

It’s worth iterating that all this is being done on volunteer time, and it’s all being driven by and for the wider ResearchOps community. Everything we produce will be open-source. The vibe we’re looking to foster both online and during the workshops is unconference in style, collaborative and open. The team behind these workshops feels that no one needs to ‘own’ ResearchOps, and that the voice should be uncompromisingly global.

As an aside, both for the Slack and to guide our in-person interactions, we’ve developed some community guidelines (draft) that are also open to feedback.

How to get involved

If you’d like to take part in a workshop or lend a hand in organising one, please drop a line in the #workshops Slack channel. If there isn’t a workshop happening in your city, why not find out about organising one?

How to get in touch

If you’ve got any questions or thoughts, please pop a message in the #workshops Slack channel and mention @katetowsey, @andrewmaier and/or @emmaboulton, or your country organiser. Or send a direct message.

If you’re not yet part of the ResearchOps Community Slack, ask for an invite.



Kate Towsey

ResearchOps strategist, coach, and educator. Author of Research That Scales. Founder of the Cha Cha Club–a members' club for ResearchOps professionals.