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Method

Research synthesis is how data is turned into insights, theories, recommendations, and designs.

Purpose

  • To make sense of research data (e.g, interview transcripts or survey results).
  • To answer a project's research questions. 
  • To look for patterns and correlations in data so that new knowledge is created. 

What you get

Insights in the form of one or more of:

  1. Insights reports
  2. Journey maps
  3. Personas
  4. Strategic recommendations
  5. Product or service concepts
  6. Product or service evaluations

The exact output depends on the needs of the project and it's stakeholders. 

Strengths

  • Thinking of synthesis as a distinct activity means project teams are likely to plan time for it. 
  • Research synthesis is an activity to be shared. Collaborating on  insights is a great way of engaging team members and stakeholders. 

Weaknesses

  • It is difficult to learn without formal research training. 
  • Synthesis with qualitative data is challenging for those who work with quantitative datasets. 
  • Depends on the quality of data collected, and the way in which it was collected. 

Tips

Most research or design projects do not leave enough time for synthesis. As a rule of thumb, every hour of research activity should allow an hour of synthesis time.

Toolkits and resources

Developing Key Insights
Synthesis: How to make sense of your design research
Using Trello for User Research Synthesis

Reviewed 09 July 2020

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