I started my career doing academic research in a child development research lab and was convinced that I would be pursuing academia. However, since then I’ve transitioned and applied my research skills from my academic training to more applied fields like museum evaluation and UX Research.

Though I definitely did not start off my career intending to become a UX Researcher, I’ve learned that my academic training offered a unique perspective to research in general — something self-taught UXers may not have developed.

1. Literature reviews taught me the importance of building on previous knowledge and never starting from scratch

One of the first tasks I had as an undergraduate and graduate research assistant in a university lab was to create or add to a literature review. When starting out, I always thought that these tasks were very menial and took way too long.

Though I don’t usually scour the internet or library archives these days with specific search terms, quotes, _AND_s, or _OR_s anymore, I learned the value in understanding what previous research has been done, what methods have been used to answer a research question, and using those pieces to build on knowledge and offer something unique to the field.

Now, whenever I start off a UX research project, my first questions are, “What do we already know about this topic?” and “Who has done something related internally or externally?” This appreciation for previous work allows me to ask deeper questions or to seek validation of something previous.

It really offers you the opportunity to ask the right question!

2. A semester/academic year of constructing a research question taught me good research questions are open-ended, specific, and answer a “So what?”

Speaking of the right question, I’ve learned that it is a real skill and art to develop good research questions. I remember taking methods courses in academia and spending almost a whole year developing the right research question for my thesis. Every time I felt like I had a research question nailed down, my professor would ask me, “What are you really trying to learn?” and the dreaded, “So what?”

Obviously, nowadays, I don’t that much time to develop research questions in a UX and tech setting. However, that practice of critically thinking about the content of a research question, how it’s asked, and the potential impact of finding that answer deeply resonate with my everyday work.

#ux-design #career-change #academia #ux-research #ux

6 Things I Learned in Academia That Make Me a Better UX Researcher
1.10 GEEK