Research Methods in Information Science/Usability and user experience studies

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Diary studies[edit]

There are two types of diary studies:

  1. Elicitation studies, where participants capture media that are then used as prompts for discussion in interviews. The method is a way to trigger the participant’s memory.
  2. Feedback studies, where participants answer predefined questions about events. This is a way of getting immediate answers from the participants.[1]


They allow:

  • collecting longitudinal and temporal information;
  • reporting events and experiences in context;
  • determining the antecedents, correlations, and consequences of daily experiences.


  • Diary studies might generate inaccurate recall, especially if using the elicitation type of diary studies.
  • Interpreting the expressed emotions and experiences is highly challenging. It can require special training in psychology, especially when participants record their experiences in multiple formats (e.g. text and pictures).[2]
  • Low control
  • User participation tends to decline, especially without investigator involvement.[3]
  • Risk of disturbing the action.
  • The instrument (e.g. paper format diary) is often disconnected from the evaluated application (e.g. a smartphone app). This leads to situations in which the instrument is unavailable and the user cannot record their experiences.[2]

Think aloud protocol[edit]


Cognitive walkthroughs[edit]

Pluralistic walkthroughs[edit]

Remote usability testing[edit]


  1. Carter and Mankoff (2005). When participants do the capturing: the role of media in diary studies. CHI '05 Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems.
  2. a b Isomursu, Minna; Tähti, Marika; Väinämö, Soili; Kuutti, Kari (April 2007). "Experimental evaluation of five methods for collecting emotions in field settings with mobile applications". International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 65 (4): 404–418. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2006.11.007. 
  3. Palen, Leysia; Salzman, Marilyn (2002). "Voice-Mail Diary Studies for Naturalistic Data Capture under Mobile Conditions". Computer supported cooperative work: 87-95.