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Assisting in research

Thanks for offering to assist in research. At a high level, you will likely be expected to:

  • Act as an observer: Listen to the interview, usability test, etc. without interruption unless the research lead asks if you have questions to add.
  • Act as a notetaker: Take verbatim notes as much you can. Don’t paraphrase. If it’s a remote test, turn off your microphone to mute the keyboard noises. If there is already a notetaker, it can be useful to take note of specific parts of the session. For example, during a usability test you might take note of the time it takes participants to complete specific tasks.

Before the research begins, work with the research lead to understand the research design and how you can best offer assistance:

  1. Ask the research lead for a copy of the research plan, interview guide, and/or access to concepts (wireframes, prototypes, etc.) being tested
  2. Review these materials, and note any questions
  3. Schedule a meeting with the research lead to run a practice session, and clarify any points of confusion

In addition to serving to clarify the research design, this meeting helps ensure that, in the heat of the moment, you are more likely to correctly interpret interactions between the moderator and the participant.

After each session you may be invited to participate in post-interview debrief to discuss what you heard and saw, and to discuss ways the research lead might improve the test design going forward.

18F User Experience Guide

An official website of the GSA’s Technology Transformation Services

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