Three months ago, I hung up my ‘employed’ hat and put on a new shiny ‘self-employed’ one. Around the same time, I happened upon an emerging Slack community about Research Ops, set up by Kate Towsey. It was like a breath of fresh air! Researchers from across the globe and all walks of life but mostly the UX kind, came together to talk shop. I couldn’t help but get involved despite the fact I was ‘taking some time off’.
My first reaction to the question ‘What is Research Ops?’ was that it was for bigger organisations only. I thought it was mostly about scaling research and research processes. As we started discussing what Research Ops was within one of the channels however, I started to feel confused. Some of the things people were talking about (logistics, data management, training, infrastructure, governance, communication) were things I had been doing as part of my research role for many years. How was this now a different thing called ‘Ops’? In fact, some of it seemed to be research leadership which is what I’d been doing most recently. This was my reply to someone at the time:
I think this is what research leaders do in some organisations — creating the right environment. In my old job I was one of two senior researchers and we only focused on this, as well as leading some strategic research projects. This was the work to a huge extent — not the actual research.
The talk continued — was this just a UX thing or did it include other researchers in the organisation — Market Researchers, Analytics, VoC and so on? It was fascinating to contribute and listen to the views of others. Frankly, it’s a good point I have been ‘taking time off’ because it was very distracting at times!
As time went on, we deliberately moved away from discussing and deciding ‘What is Research Ops’ as we realised that this was a question that needed more than just a Slack channel. A core group came together to set up a series of global workshops. There are currently 20 proposed workshops being organised by volunteers across the globe. In around three weeks time, the first few workshops will take place in Hobart, Australia (30th May), London, UK (30th May), Stockholm, Sweden (30th May), Bristol, UK (31st May), Tokyo, Japan (2nd June) and Washington DC, USA (9th June). Keep an eye on our Team ReOps Twitter account for further details.
In the meantime, we’re looking for some insights from the broader UX/User Research community of your definition of ‘Research Ops’. The core team have put together a short survey and we’d love to get as many responses as possible. We’re aiming to provide some context to our global workshops with the data we get out of this and we’ll also share the results with the community. Please do take 5 minutes and fill it in. Your responses will be anonymised. Thanks in advance!