Whether you're designing your first dscout Diary mission or your 100th, there are some tips and tricks that you'll want to know. Read on to understand the foundations of dscout, as well as best practices for planning and designing your research. 

To see dscout Diary in action, check out our webinar on research design:

Learn the foundations: missions, parts, and entries

dscout Diary missions let you collect media, answers to survey questions, location data, and time data from participants (we call them "scouts") with smartphones.

Missions are broken down into parts, which can be repeated multiple times – and each of these submissions is considered an entry. You can select the minimum number of required entries for each part. In addition to survey-style questions, each entry can include up to 1 photo and 1 video prompt

For more on dscout lingo and the difference between missions, parts, and entries, check out this article

dscout Diary is a flexible tool, and can adapt to your topic and timeline. Check out these examples:

  • "Show me every time you eat a meal on-the-go this week! Submit a new entry for each meal, explaining where you purchased it and how much you like it."       (days: 7 / minimum entries required: 4) 
  • "Show me your morning beauty routine by breaking it down into steps. Submit a new entry for each step."                                                                                        (days: 1 / minimum entries required: 3)
  • "Show me your child's 5 favorite mobile apps. Submit a new entry for each app, and tell me what you like or dislike about each one."                                           (days: 3 / minimum entries required: 5)

Get to know the 5 types of parts

Looking for some inspiration? When creating a mission part, it is usually best to model it after one of the 5 types highlighted below.


Scouts capture recurring experiences as they happen in real-time. This usually looks like: "Show me every time you...."


Scouts document key moments of a process in real time. This usually looks like: "Show me your process as you go about..."


Scouts show you all the things they use or own within a specific topic. This usually looks like: "Show me all the ways you..."


Scouts explain their preferences, memories and motivators. This usually looks like:  "Show me how you feel about..."


Scouts present their ideas and suggestions. This usually looks like: "Show me your ideas for..."

Set up your mission

It's time to jump into the dscout platform and start building! 🎉 The "cheat sheet" below explains all of the fields that you'll need to fill out when setting up your mission. If you're looking for a more in-depth guide, this article offers a step-by-step walkthrough on building your mission.

Details tab

Specs section:

  • Title: This is visible to scouts, so keep it fun and upbeat! 
  • Scout Profile Required: If you toggle this on, scouts will need to fill out a full dscout profile before getting started. This will let you filter entry data by all profile demographics. 
  • Days per Scout: Scouts will use this as a point of reference for how many days they will work on your mission. This should match the corresponding screener.
  • Reward: This should match the corresponding screener. Not sure what amount is right? Chat with your research advisor!
  • Hero Image: Pick something relevant and fun! If you have multiple similar missions within the same project, different hero images can help you distinguish between them.
  • Company Branding: This is a way to let scouts know who they're working with.
  • Job Code: This is not visible to scouts, and is a good way to keep organized if you have more than one similar mission in a project.

Overview section:

  • This is your chance to introduce scouts to your mission and give them information that is relevant to the mission as a whole. Be sure to include deadlines for all parts!

Part Availability section:

  • Manual: In this mode, you have control over when parts become available to scouts. The first part will open to scouts on launch. Subsequent parts will be in draft mode, and can be edited until they are published and launched to scouts. Note that parts must be opened sequentially. 
  • Automatic: Automatic missions give scouts more control, and require less work on the part of the researcher. The first part will open to scouts on launch, and all subsequent parts will be locked from being edited. Once a scout submits the minimum number of entries required for a part, the next part automatically opens up for them.

Questions tab

Under each mission part (viewable on the lefthand side of the screen), you'll see:

  • Instructions: Explain what scouts will be expected to do during this part of your mission, including deadlines!
  • Entries: Pick the number of times scouts should answer all of the questions in this mission part. 
  • Days: Pick the number of days scouts should spend on this mission part. 
  • Due Dates: Pick the date that scouts should complete this mission part by. 
  • Questions: Now we're getting to the good stuff! Scouts will repeat this question set each time they submit an entry for this mission part. Scouts can answer up to 20 questions per entry, including one photo and one video.

Invites tab

  • Welcome Message: Write out a customized invitation message that will be sent to scouts when they are invited to the mission. 
  • Scouts: Ready to add your scouts to the invitation queue and launch your mission? Check out this article!
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