, 55 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
Our keynote is @steveportigal, with "What we (don't) talk about when we talk about research"
What is he seeing, not seeing in the research field today. It's really important we don't confuse research with user experience because the problems are different.
Steve is acknowledging that he is just one person and he's expecting to have some robust discussions with people after he says some provocative things today.
A list of people who have directly or indirectly influenced the talk Steve is about to give.
Researchers are many — people and organisations especially in silicon valley are full of researchers. They're getting more specialised and the growth has been exponential over the years
One of the things that characterises researchers is thirst for knowledge. As it's grown the events specifically for research have popped up. "User research in health technology" is an example how even these events are getting more specific and making space for them
We have a lot of books about user research specifically. Here's a first pass list
We have many communities.

For the most part they're welcoming and friendly.

People are willing to help each other, dog up resources at request and create new ones.
We have user research mentorship programs being built off the back of the communities.
People are creating resources for others to be successful.

Trying to channel the collective wisdom towards groups that haven't had access to that information.

We're a helping profession.
Over and over again we have tactical questions come up again and again.


A deluge of these questions positions us as a surface level "how" we do research instead of "why" we do research
We have a specific conversation about "tools"
It makes the conversation of Research about the artefacts and deliverables rather than the practice of research.

It's easier to show a tangible artefacts rather than a squishy insight and feels like it reduces risk to the researcher.
In what ways does it help our cause focussing on deliverables? How much is it hindering us?
We have people in jobs where they don't have the knowledge to do their job.

They don't have the resources, mentorship or access to time to keep up to date.

Many of us are self taught and even if we have education it doesn't quite cover the actual work we're doing.
We have under trained people in positions.

We have a wonderful supportive community that loves to help each other.

We're probably both.
There's a lot of different names for researchers.

In an org are you part of design?
Are you part of product?
Are you a support function?
We use the term research to capture a very wide group of practices.

We have a fallacy that research just finds what people want in a product. Where does research sit in innovation? Design Thinking is a disservice to research with its formulated approach.
What is it that we do?

Do we run methods?
Do we ensure the quality of insights
Do we facilitate other people doing that?

Or do we do all of that?
People who Do Research PwDR (@katetowsey)

We like empowering other to do work, if we're training other people to do our job what does that mean for us as a profession? Will we have jobs?
You are already a researcher — it's a movement talking about people having skills already, it's treading very closely to "we are all designers"

It's also creating a perception that research can be made into a checkbox exercise
How researchers might function in different situations
Research as a practice
Research as a Process
Research as a Profession

There's a range of possibilities of what we do.
In the late 90s there was a conference about research in product design, they spent a lot of time complaining that people didn't get research and what we do. (Sound familiar)

We don't want to continually get caught up in this conversation
ResearchOps has been gaining momentum and getting a lot of people creating a lot of conversation, frameworks and resources.

Why have we decided this is a very important part of research?
Ethics is gaining momentum as a topic of research practice but they're not the same in every situation.

It's an area we haven't set the foundations of or had enough in depth conversations about.
There's a new focus on researcher wellbeing
What do we need to be better at?

Elevate the work you do by talking about what it brings, not what you've done.
Personas still exist and are being used in weird ways, like giant cardboard cutouts in place of empathy.
User Research is working hard to coexist with Data Science but less so with Marketing Research, it's an uneasy coexistence and we need to be better at articulating it.
Testing seems to be a stand in for all types of research. Words have power so we need to position ourselves in ways that are valuable to the organisation and not just another step in the software development cycle.
A pattern has emerged where people become discontent with usability research and rebrand as wanting to to do strategy. But usability can be strategic.
There's a trend towards optimisation, which itself isn't bad, but it can't be your only type of research.

There's pressure asking you to do more research formless money and with less people.
We've adopted "Sprints" from agile and it doesn't serve the practice and serve us individually because we lose power in the organisation.
So if you're trying to save money, just don't leave the office, never find the context specific insights you only get in person.
If budget and time means you have to over index on remote can you do some of the research in person.

Can you stop a constraint from becoming a liability?
Changing minds and informing minds are harder to measure but maybe they're more important as an outcome from our work.

We can be pushed into a place where we only measure our success through the narrow framework that helps us fit into an existing organisational culture
Steve was comparing stories with another colleague who worked in house and was apologising for not having examples of products that shipped. His friend stopped him and reminded him that wasn't the purpose of his work, he was there to find opportunity and that reframing helped.
Don't set impossible goals that make it excruciating for you as a practitioner.
We all do analysis differently. We can settle into our practices and find it hard to imagine doing it another way. As everything there is a trade off for every tool and every method and it's important to be aware of that
Great deep specific post about how to manage your insights.
We don't talk about intuition because we're so worried about bias.

We tell stories about other people doing research to validate their own narrative.

Steve is hopeful to find a place for intuition that doesn't threaten our rigor.
Researchers aren't being critical of other researchers to evolve our own practices. We lack mentorship and we're not growing.
A researcher told Steve about how he adapted his interview approach to be more responsive.

So much of our detail of craft is written instead of spoken, what are we missing out on not involving an out loud practice.
Many of us have aspects of our practice that need to be developed but we're not putting aside the time to develop them.
What is our overall employability inside and outside organisations?

What does our future look like?

Will there always be researchers? How many and what tasks?

It's impossible to know the answer but important to have the conversation.
What about our participants?

Are we supposed to judge if someone needs help after our session? How do we balance our imperative not to judge with our compassion to help.

There's a lot more we can do to miss compassion with non judgement researcher.
We should be very careful about taking on a role we are not trained for.
There's a backlash against empathy in research.

There's also a backlash against the backlash against empathy.

We're not going to let people take an important part of our practice and distort it.
The interesting part of the conversation is the parts in the middle and a robust discussion, questions and best practices.
Keep having these difficult conversations.

We need small synchronous groups discussing these issues rather than only having online bites of a conversation.
There are a lot of issues, you don't have to pick them all, just find one that you want to work on and put some time into it.

We have the how might we questions to help us not develop and us and them mentality
Here's Steve's framework for figuring out what you're interested in working on to develop the research discipline.
The work we do is about humans.

"Get on with the fascination, the real relation, the underlying theme" — Rush
Another incredible presentation from Steve leaving everyone with more questions than answers :D #dr19
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