While other research books offer standard operating procedures, this book provides something more durable in the real world. It’s a practical field guide that will give you the encouragement to get started, no matter what your background.—Aarron Walter This book is not an argument for doing user research. Nor is it a tutorial or toolkit for common methodologies. It won’t show you how to run a usability session or recruit users remotely. Research Practice captures the day-to-day of the practice of user research—what it looks like to work with peers and stakeholders, to raise awareness of research, to make tradeoffs, and to build a larger team. This book takes you inside the field of applied user research through the stories and experiences of the people doing the work. Each chapter explores a specific theme: Finding a way in presents the various pathways people take to this field. You’ll learn how practitioners navigated from schools, the social sciences, fine arts, and beyond to a career that satisfies and rewards a passion for understanding people. Getting started in a new role demystifies why organizations hire researchers, how to assess a role, the hiring process, and how to start when you land a new job. Building momentum describes the different roles and teams a user researcher might work with, how to build and navigate relationships with colleagues and stakeholders, and the best place within an organization for researchers to make an impact. Sharing the work unpacks what researchers really share by exploring how practitioners build an awareness of research, teach research methodologies, and—yes—disseminate research findings with their teams and organizations. Expanding your practice covers how to navigate growth in both influence and headcount for practitioners, from what research leadership means to how to hire a team to when to operationalize a practice. Overcoming challenges exposes the hard parts that no one tells you about user research, from the loneliness of being a team of one to battling imposter syndrome to advocating for change to taking an ethical stand. Where to go next charts the pathways of a research career through an examination of possible career ladders, perspectives on when it’s time to leave a role, and thoughts on where a research leader goes when there isn’t a clear next step. If you’re in school or considering a career switch, you’ll learn what a job in user research might look like. If you’re new to the field, you’ll see where your career might go and know how to get there. And if you’re expanding the size or reach of a practice, you’ll understand how others have approached it.