We’re a global community discussing ResearchOps — the people, mechanisms, and strategies that organizations use to scale their design and user research practice. Our Community began on the 8th of March, 2018 with a tweet from Kate Towsey.
In addition to maintaining our Slack, our community is committed to facilitating global discussions via local workshops. Our first workshop series helped us better define the discipline. In 2019, we’re running two more.
What is ResearchOps?
Working as a user researcher, design researcher, etc. means paying attention to things outside of research itself: liaising with stakeholders; managing ethics applications and consent forms; managing data; organising the why, when, and how much — and this is all before you’ve even started the research!
This is where ResearchOps begins. ResearchOps is an emergent consequence of knowledge work at scale. As an organization scales its research practice, it must also scale the operations of its research.
What does that entail, you might ask? We wondered the same thing. After our global series of workshops in 2018 (where we asked the question, “what is ResearchOps?”) we arrived at the following definition:
ResearchOps is the people, mechanisms, and strategies that set user research in motion. It provides the roles, tools and processes needed to support researchers in delivering and scaling the impact of the craft across an organisation.
For more information, see this Medium post, and the map in Mural or Kumu.
Why operationalize research
Why is research ops important? There are lots of reasons given in/implied by the framework. Some of the most notable include:
- Protecting participant privacy
- Making research easier to do (i.e. “democratizing” research)
- Operationalizing respect for the people who participate in our research
- Magnifying the impact of our research (knowledge sharing)
Why should someone specialize in ops? ResearchOps is related to research, but distinct; and not all ResearchOps professionals (for example, participant recruiters or research librarians) are professional researchers. ResearchOps is important in its own right. Just as a professional violinist benefits from a good violin, so too do researchers benefit from dedicated attention to ResearchOps. Researchers need tools and processes that work. Your research and the people who give you their time deserve it.
ResearchOps is an emergent profession in its own right. People who practice ResearchOps help researchers do their best work.
What are we doing now?
A community of more than 2,000 people never stops. Our work emerges according to the needs of the profession and the capacities of our community members.
At a high level, our work aims to answer the what, why, and how of ResearchOps. We started with what in 2018; now our challenges are the how and why.
We created a model for ResearchOps comprised of eight pillars. This not only comes from the voice of people around the world but helps in both near-future and ongoing work by that same community of voices:
- Research Environment
- Research Scope
- Organisational Constraints
- Research admin and logistics
- Asset and Knowledge Management
- Tools and Infrastructure
- Safety and Ethics
We are using these now to help us focus our community efforts.
In 2019, we’re focused on two global pieces of research aimed at helping us help researchers or helping us help ourselves. We also have several community based projects in the works.
- Global leaders
- Brigette Metzler
- Rebecca Wood-Spagnoli
- Mark McElhaw
- Holly Cole
- Asset and knowledge management, Tools and infrastructure
- Starting date
- June 2019
- Ending date
- January 2020
- Define the problem being solved by research repositories. To surface different user needs. To develop some resources for the structure of research repositories.
Researcher Skills Framework
Taking a look at what it is that researchers really do, where the challenges are, and how they’d like to push their practice forward.
The Board of ResearchOps (affectionately known as the Cheese Board) is a group of leaders who have taken on the role of shaping and leading the community. They are made from the original Team ReOps, formed at the end of the #WhatIsResearchOps workshops to bring together that work and share the task of caring for the Community and harnessing all that enthusiasm for our emergent profession.
In December 2018, the board grew to 13 members stretched across the globe. All of the board members are people who have been doing work in the background, the unseen stuff, the Ops for the Ops people.
The board is:
Andrew Maier is a public-interest designer and coach who helps organizations kickstart and mature their design research practices. He is the co-founder of two publications, UX Booth and Civic Quarterly, and in April completed a four-year term at 18F. Before this, he helped the State of Rhode Island improve its school enrollment process as a 2014 Code for America Fellow. He lives in Washington DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood.
Andrew was the U.S. coordinator for the 2018 #WhatIsResearchOps workshops and has been with ReOps from the beginning. You can find him for a chat on Twitter at @andrewmaier
Brad holds a B.S. in Computer Science, a B.A. in Psychology, and minors in Spanish and Dance from the University of Rochester with a focus in Human-Computer Interaction and Social Psychology. Since 2011 he’s been helping companies from early-stage startup to Fortune 500 develop engaging, fulfilling experiences for their users.
Brad has launched over 20 products and touched well over 5 million users, with budgets ranging from $0 to $10M+, as well as having designed dozens of usability research studies and over 250 unmoderated remote research sessions. This diverse background gives him the ability to thrive in any environment, and to work with anyone from contributing engineer to C-suite executive. Collaborative yet firm, Brad understands the value in user-centric product development.
Brigette Metzler is a jump-in-with-both-boots kind of a person. She is passionate about the democratisation of knowledge. Currently working on the information architect end of the spectrum of user research and design research, Brigette is a lead User Research Librarian for the Australian Government. Brigette is passionate about the role of ResearchOps in helping researchers do their best work and most weeks can find her talking ResearchOps, and libraries in particular, with people from all over the place. Brigette was the Australian coordinator for the #WhatIsResearchOps workshops and has been with ReOps from the beginning. You can find Brigette for a chat on Twitter at @BrigetteMetzler
Chris Adams is an environmentally focussed tech generalist, spending the last ten years working in tech startups, blue chip companies and government, as a user researcher, product manager, developer, sysadmin and UX-er.
He runs Product Science, a small product development consultancy, and lives in Berlin.
Chris is an original board member of Team ReOps and has worked extensively on the administration of our large Community. Chris runs the Community Town Halls.
Dave is a researcher fascinated by how teams work together—and what it is that makes research work. As a five time “first researcher,” he established the research program at one consultancy and four startups in Silicon Valley, and now consults as the Employee of the Month at Dave’s Research Company, Ltd.
Emma Boulton is a Design / User Research Leader based near Cardiff in the UK. Now working as a freelance consultant, she previously led research at Monotype and in the BBC’s Audience Research team. She was a co-founder of the boutique design studio, Mark Boulton Design and there ran User Research projects for global clients such as Al Jazeera, CERN and Global Witness. As the commissioning editor of popular indie publisher, Five Simple Steps, she was instrumental in amplifying many new voices in the industry. Emma also writes and speaks and you can often find her sharing her thoughts on Twitter @emmaboulton
When she was 8, Holly started a list of “Things that would be different if I ran the world”. Number one was: engineers who make highways should have to live there for two years before being allowed to make changes.
She’s always been focused on understanding the context before changing anything. She’s always been passionate about helping the people around her and has a bit of a catchphrase, “My users are my coworkers.” She loves to both hear and tell a good story, so don’t get her going unless you’re prepared to have seven conversations at once that don’t seem to relate to each other until the end. All that translates well into her passion of governance and process for research activities that allow everyone to do better, more rigorous research with the people they make things for, wherever they work or study.
As a UX Strategist, Hugo focuses on understanding the user, their needs and frustration through user centered research methodologies. These include usability testing, user research, interviews, data analysis and so much more. He loves to give back to the community by teaching and mentoring, while also being involved in the global UX and Research communities.
Judith is a user and innovation researcher from Berlin with a background in sociology and a Ph.D. in innovation management. She is specialized in the front-end of innovation with explorative research for product discovery and strategy.
Rebecca Wood Spagnoli
Rebecca is a Sr. UX Researcher living in Austin, TX, USA. Her passion is helping teams find their “aha” moment when it comes to the value of UXR and growing research practices. This passion (and her frustration with recruiting and the “insights black hole”) brought her to ResearchOps.
Tomomi Sasaki is a designer, bringing product strategy, design research and facilitation skills to challenges like organizational culture change and improving the customer experience. She lived in Tokyo for almost two decades before moving to Paris in late 2014. Exploring: learning as a social activity, the nature of unfolding conversations, and building organizational capabilities for design and research. Co-founder Design Research Tokyo. Say hi on Twitter @tomomiq.