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Friday, May 15 • 2:00pm - 2:45pm
Discussion Guides: Getting to Everything BUT the Kitchen Sink

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A discussion guide is universal to every human-centered research protocol. Often heavily reviewed by other stakeholders, it can be vulnerable to scope creep; research is a prime time for all parties interested to ask questions of a real person. While researchers consider the burning questions posed by these stakeholders, they also must be considerate of participants’ time, remain credible by eliminating bias, and also demonstrate the value of different kinds of research efforts. This presentation includes a framework for defining a clear rationale for discussion points and conversation flow in a discussion guide. The presenters will share a case study that uses the framework, as well as ask for audience input to better improve it as a research tool.

Research affords companies powerful moments to build knowledge, understanding, and empathy for customers and users. Because of this, they are sometimes seen as opportunities to address any and all questions stakeholders may have. As consultants, we have seen proposal requests that include questions that can feed multiple research efforts of varying scope. 

A well-crafted discussion guide, the central artifact of the protocol, is crucial in maintaining the credibility of the study. As researchers, we must provide rationale and evidence for all of its contents. This presentation is important to the field because it introduces a tool that is flexible to all types of study designs and addresses an often overlooked part of research: documenting the rationale. 

Providing insight into what truly needs to be uncovered in a study, the questions of relevance, and how it might impact the discussion guide can be a challenge without the help of some guiding principles. This presentation will share a framework and tool that can demonstrate the scope and constraints of a particular research program.

Attendees will learn about a tool that has been effective in aligning stakeholders on the most meaningful discussion points for research; what was in scope and what needed to be considered for future research. In this case study, the presenters will share a common research scenario, which many researchers may have experienced (receiving requests to include questions that are out of scope of the effort). This presentation may also inspire researchers to reconfigure the tool to meet their specific domain needs, or to create their own.

The audience will receive a paper copy of the discussion guide tool to see if it works for them. Because we also only use this tool internally, we are open to audience feedback on how to improve the usability and meaningfulness of the tool. Both novice and seasoned research professionals will benefit from this presentation because it focuses on a universal research artifact: the discussion guide. 


avatar for Emily Chu

Emily Chu

Senior Design Researcher, Motivate Design
Emily Chu is a UX Researcher at Motivate Design. She focuses on extracting user needs from a variety of research methods such as ethnography, online diary studies, discovery contextual research, and of course, usability testing. Emily is always looking for innovative ways to effectively... Read More →
avatar for Meena Kothandaraman

Meena Kothandaraman

Customer Experience Strategist
With over 20 years of experience, Meena has consulted to numerous organizations worldwide and is well versed with the importance of studying user motivations and behaviors, and creating empathy for how products, services and space are consumed. She particularly enjoys creating customer... Read More →

Friday May 15, 2015 2:00pm - 2:45pm EDT
Back Bay C/D

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