The Self-Aware Researcher at the 2014 IA Summit

Illustration_29One reason I love teaching is that it’s the best way for me to learn. Yeah, you thought I was all generous and whatnot. Well, I get stuff out of it, too!

Happily, not only did presenting The Self-Aware Researcher at the 2014 IA Summit give me a great opportunity to learn, but it also allowed me to share ideas about how to take your research practice to the next level.

Summary and Slides

UX research can be difficult and a bit scary. But! If you own your growth and remind yourself that you’ll get there eventually, you can serve your team and your users well.

Or, at least, that’s what’s worked for me.

It turns out that it’s worked for some other people, too. I know this because I put my money where my mouth is, and did some research—about research. I sent notes to a dozen people who research: some who I’ve worked with and others who I’ve met (or who I got to meet at #ias14). In the end, the talk pulled not only from my experience, but also those of Dan BerlinDana Chisnell, Lisa FastMatt Dingee, and one researcher who chose to remain anonymous. The talk walks through three steps toward being a self-aware researcher.

  1. Gather input: Look at your own research, the research of others, and the feedback given to you about your research.
  2. Experiment: Try out new approaches at all three levels of specificity: on each project, at each phase, and in sessions.
  3. Customize it: As you decide which techniques and perspectives to adopt, remember to make research your own. What works for someone else may not work as well for you, and vice versa.

For a hint at the details, check out The Self-Aware Researcher slides on Speaker Deck.

Big thanks to people who helped me!

Besides the awesome contributing researchers (Thanks, Dan BerlinDana ChisnellLisa FastMatt Dingee, and anonymous!), I had other help, too.

My first thanks have to go to my partner Tony, who is so helpful and patient—he’s always the first person to listen to my draft presentation, and this one was no exception.

Adam, for his awesome awesome work at the IA Summit speaker studio. He gave me some great tips a couple days before my presentation, and he also paired me up with my speaker mentor:

It’s always extremely helpful for me to have someone “outside” to be accountable to, and my speaker mentor Brad was no exception. Besides some emailing and Google doc reviewing, we had one call before I’d really organized things, and another when I practiced my talk. It was especially fun being paired with a fellow researcher.

That’s all, folks

Thanks for following along, and for attending at IA Summit 2014, if you had the chance. If you have some great tales of where self-aware research can get you, please share with me and the rest of our community!


About Veronica Erb

Designs, researches, illustrates, and writes code. Plays ukulele. Dances Balboa. Grew up in a geodesic dome, and hasn't gotten over it.
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