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Writing and using discussion guides

We create discussion guides to help us plan and do research activities, like interviews, visits, workshops and usability tests.

They help us to:

The parts of a discussion guide #

Introduction #

This part recaps the goals of the project and the research activity, describes the methods we’ll be using, and sets out the overall structure of the research session.

Preparation #

This part describes anything the researchers need to have or do, to prepare for the session. It references things like the information sheet to send to participants, describes how to set up a prototype we’re be testing, and references the notes template observers should use.

Welcome #

This part sets out the things we’ll tell the participants, so they know what’s going on and feel ready. We often write this out word for word, so we have something to fall back on when we’re tired, or get interrupted or distracted.

In a good welcome we:

Topics, tasks and activities #

We have a section in our guide for each of the main interview topics, test tasks or workshop activities.

For each one we write out:

Wrap up #

Describe how we’ll conclude the session with the participants. This can include asking the participants for their final thoughts, asking them how the session went for them, letting them know what will happen next, and thanking them for their time.

Also include any steps for the researchers, like collecting and storing recordings, or deleting data from prototypes.

Three discussion guide templates #

We have template discussion guides for three different kinds of research activities:

Last updated: 5 March 2024 (history)