A research plan is a deliverable that outlines the goals, methods, and key details of a research study. Writing a research plan is generally the first step of conducting user research. Documenting this plan helps teams align on essential details and define a strategic framework.
A research plan should cover:
- Background: Why is the team embarking on this research?
- Research goal: What does the team hope to learn from this research?
- Research question(s): What question(s) should the team explore to achieve their research goal?
- Research method(s) and protocols: What research method or methods will be used? How will these methods be executed?
- Target participants: Who will be included as participants in the research? The “who” considers factors like demographic information and other relevant details, such as existing customers vs. potential customers. In many cases, a participant screener, will be needed in order to qualify participants.
- Recruitment strategies: How will participants be recruited? Where will the team find participants? Will compensation or incentives be offered to those who participate?
- Timeline and due dates: How long will each stage of the research take? When does the project need to be completed?
- Ethical considerations: How will participants be protected? What can the team realistically promise? While participant privacy and informed consent should always be considered, these should be emphasized for studies that cover sensitive topics.
- Research materials to be created: What research, recruitment, and reporting collateral needs to be created? This includes any informed consent forms, explanatory materials, interview scripts, participant screeners, survey questions, or anything else that should be created in advance.
Example Research Plan
This Research Plan Example maps out the framework for a user interview study.
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