Tutorial 1: Planning Your Research

New to dscout and not sure how to start? This guide explains the foundations of dscout and outlines best practices for planning & designing your research. Complete the following three steps and you'll be on your way to dscout mastery.

Planning Your Research

  1. Learn the Foundations: Missions, Parts, and Entries
  2. Get to Know the Five Mission Part Types
  3. Start Prototyping


1. Learn the Foundations: Missions, Parts, and Entries

dscout is a research tool that helps you collect media, answers to survey questions, location data, and time data from people with smartphones. With dscout, you’ll design research activities by creating a “mission,” which your participants (scouts) will complete using the dscout mobile app.

Missions are made up of “parts” (or just one part if that’s all you need!). Think of parts as unique tasks that make up your research. Each part will contain its own instructions, questions, and a timeframe.

In a mission part, you ask participants to show you an experience and answer specific questions about what’s happening in that moment. The most powerful (and tricky) part of researching on dscout is that within a part, your participants can show you their experience multiple times (like a diary study)!  -- and each time they answer the same set of questions, they create a unique entry. The bundles of data your participants create by answering questions are called "entries".

Consider these mission parts examples

  • Show me every time you eat a meal on-the-go this week, and for each meal, explain where you purchased it and how much you like it.
  • Show me your morning beauty routine by breaking it down into steps, and tell me how each step makes you feel.
  • Show me your kid’s 5 favorite mobile apps, and tell me what you like or dislike about each one.
  • Show me 3 factors you consider when buying wine, and explain how important each factor is.

You’ll notice each example has two things in common. First, a “show me” statement that defines the experience participants should capture with entries (e.g., Show me every meal you eat). Then, there is a set of questions participants will answer each time they make an entry (e.g., Where is the meal from? How much do you like it?). Entries can consist of one media prompt, answers to questions, and basic data like time and location. You can set the requirements for the minimum number of entries you want your scouts to submit for each part. 

When you design your mission, you will create 2 things:
Mission
  1. Overview: What will scouts be expected to do and complete during your mission.
  2. Part availability: Do you want to manually control when mission parts open to scouts? Or do you want parts to open automatically as scouts complete them?

Parts

  1. Instructions: What scouts will be expected to do during this part of your mission. Define the experience participants should capture. (e.g. show us every meal you eat this week)
  2. Question Script: A single set of up to 20 questions (you could think of them as a script) that participants will answer EACH time they create a diary-study-style entry in your mission part. (e.g. take a photo of your meal, explain your meal in a few sentences, etc.)

You can give scouts only one media prompt per part, but they can respond to that prompt multiple times if you ask them to create multiple entries. The part example below starts with a photo prompt, is 5 questions long, and asks scouts to create 14 entries by repeating the process of answering those same 5 questions 14 times over the course of a week.


2. Get to Know the Five Mission Part Types

When creating a part, it almost always works best to model it after one of the five part types highlighted below. Start by familiarizing yourself with each of them. In a few moments, you'll prototype part designs within each approach.


Moments 

Scouts capture recurring experiences as they happen in real-time. "Show me every time you...." 

Process

Scouts document key moments of a process in realtime. "Show me your process as you go about..." 

Inventory

Scouts show you all the things they use or own within a specific topic. "Show me all the ways you..." 


Reflection

Scouts explain their preferences, memories and motivators. "Show me how you feel about..." 

Ideation

Scouts present their ideas and suggestions. "Show me your ideas for..." 


3. Start Prototyping

This is the fun part! Your mission can probably be approached using any of the five part types, or better yet, a combination of several part types. Spend 5 minutes prototyping within each approach and you'll have an array of options to choose from. Just fill in the blanks on the following statements. The first blank can be expanded to form your part instructions while the second blank is the basis of part questions.

Moments

Scouts capture recurring experiences as they happen in realtime.
  • Show me every time you ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me the high moments and low moments of ________ and tell me ________

Process

Scouts document key moments of a process in realtime.
  • Show me your process as you go about ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me how you ________ by capturing key steps and tell me ________

Inventory

Scouts show you all the things they use or own within a specific topic.
  • Show me all the ways you ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me all the ________ you use/own and tell me ________

Reflection

Scouts explain their preferences, memories and motivators.
  • Show me how you feel about ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me what is important to you about ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me 3 things you like and 3 things you dislike about ________ and tell me ________

Ideation

Scouts present their ideas and suggestions.
  • Show me your ideas for ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me your ideal ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me 5 ways we could improve ________ and tell me ________

After you consider a few approaches to your research, you can translate your prototype statements into a dscout part within your mission, with clear instructions and questions. Ready to give it a shot? 

PRO TIP: When building a mission part in dscout, you can now choose from 5 templates designed and used by dscout’s own user success team. Choose a template, modify a few things to fit your needs, and launch.

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