#WhatisResearchOps? A starting point

What is everyone else thinking?

Next week, the first #WhatisResearchOps global workshops kick off. Are you attending one or would you like to? You can find out more in Kate’s post here.

Since we first got together to discuss the idea of workshops, the core team have been thinking about the workshop experience and what we want that to feel like. Every workshop will be different — each city running a workshop has a different flavour of UX community. We’re conscious that workshop attendees will be a diverse bunch of people from different backgrounds and have unique perspectives and experiences. We’ve all spent several months thinking and talking about ResearchOps and what we think it is, but many of our attendees will be coming to this completely green. We’ve been grappling with how we provide some context and background both for organisers and attendees. This was one of the reasons we decided to run a survey.

Although the survey is open for a few more weeks, I’ve done some initial analysis this week, so that I can provide some insights ahead of the workshops. It’s been fascinating to dig into the data.

I started by tagging the open-ended responses for the question, ‘What are the main operational challenges you have experienced with research to date?’. Very quickly, some obvious groupings started to emerge. I went back to the Realtime Board Kate created from the first community discussions, as well as Chris Avore’s design research maturity model. A lot of the comments were consistent with our initial hunches, but there were also new things coming through. It seems that we’re onto something.

But we’ve only just scratched the surface, so how could we provide a starting point or framework for discussion at the workshops without being too prescriptive and rigid? By thinking about our core audience.

Over half the survey responses so far have been from researchers, so I approached this initial analysis from the perspective of understanding what’s important to a researcher. This is where we’ve got to, I’m calling it our Researcher Centric Framework for now:

The Researcher Centric Framework

These are the areas researchers are most concerned about (high-level themes). What do these themes mean though? Let’s think about this from the view of a researcher.

As a researcher…

  1. The research environment — Why does research happen and who engages with what I do?
  2. The organisational environment — What are the external and organisational constraints that affect me?
  3. Research admin and logistics — How do I manage all the logistics and admin for research projects and participants?
  4. The research landscape — How and when does research happen? What methods are used and what is covered?
  5. Research Library — What happens to the research findings, data and insights?
  6. Infrastructure — How do I design and build a system of tools and technology for research?
  7. Governance — What are the legal and ethical considerations that affect my work?
  8. People — Who is responsible for carrying out research and what does the career path of a researcher look like?

Underneath these high-level themes are many terms — you can see them in the spreadsheet. Some have come from the survey (coloured), some from early discussions and previous thinking. We’ll be providing these terms to workshop organisers so they can tag the insights collected from attendees. We’ll be publishing another post with our methodology soon.

This isn’t a finished model or framework — it’s certainly not ‘done’ — but we’re hoping this provides a starting point. These areas are what people have told us they are finding the most challenging. They are also where they’ve had successes. As we carry on analysing the survey data and layer in the workshop insights, we will likely find more and more terms to add to this. We may well throw these groupings away and start again or we may build upon it with a model or experience map. This is just the beginning. We’re excited to see where we go over the next few weeks and we’ll be sharing our progress as we go. Stay tuned!