Diary Studies

  • Research Methods
  • Unmoderated
  • Remote
  • Qualitative

A Diary Study is a qualitative research method where research participants track their own use, behaviors, and perspectives with a system in a log. Study participants self-report using either a paper or digital log over time.

Steps to Conduct a Diary Study

  • Define goals for the study. What long-term behavior are you studying and for how long. What data do you want to collect?
  • Define the user group you want participants to come from.
  • Decide on the frequency. How often do you want participants to log their responses? Every day, week, or based on specific events.
  • Plan on the logistics of the diary study.
    • How are participants going to give you their logs? Over email, a notebook, a mobile application?
    • How are you going to give participants their tasks?

Benefits of a Diary Study

  • Unmoderated: Can involve a larger participant group than moderated methods like interviews.
  • Longitudinal: Diary studies happen over a longer period of time than other research methods like interviews, user interviews, and surveys. Because of this they can show changing perspectives and behaviors.
  • Contextual: Because diary studies happen over time and are self-reported, they are often contextual for the user when they are interacting with the system. The participant is in their "natural" environment.
  • Cost Effective: Although observational field studies will produce richer insights, diary studies can usually be cheaper while including more participants.
  • Subjective Data: Since participants are self-reporting over time, diary studies produce rich, subjective data that is unlikely from other methods.
  • Experience sampling method - Wikipedia.org

    The experience sampling method (ESM),[1] also referred to as a daily diary method, or ecological momentary assessment (EMA), is an intensive longitudinal research methodology that involves asking participants to report on their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and/or environment on multiple occasions over time.

  • Diary Studies - Wikipedia.org

    Diary studies is a research method that collects qualitative information by having participants record entries about their everyday lives in a log, diary or journal about the activity or experience being studied.

  • Practical User Research: Everything You Need to Know to Integrate User Research to Your Product Development by Emmanuelle Savarit

    Explore how User Research has been influenced over the years by a range of disciplines, such as HCI, usability, anthropology, cognitive psychology, ergonomics etc. This book aims to contribute to the User Research community and covers topics that will help UX professionals, students and stakeholders to gain a better understanding of what User Research is.

  • Diary Studies: Understanding Long-Term User Behavior and Experiences by Kim Salazar, Nielsen Norman Group

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