Wiley Online Library: Generative Research


Project overview

Methods: In-depth qualitative interviews
Skills: Interviewing, discussion guide creation, synthesizing, facilitating
Deliverables: Research summary
Tools: Post-its, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Suite, Powerpoint


Wiley Online Library is one of the largest collections of online journals, books and research resources, covering life, health, social and physical sciences. They provide an online platform for users to find and utilize scientific research materials for academic or personal purposes.

Wiley Online Library came to us with a desire to better understand the needs and expectations of their users surrounding potential new functionality within Wiley’s online article content. They had received similar requests from a certain user base, Society Leaders, and wanted to understand the why behind these requests, and how society leaders, in particular, are thinking about this new functionality. As there was not previous research conducted in the past, we were able to uncover the goals, motivations, potential barriers and impact of this functionality from the perspective of the Society Leaders.


For this opportunity, we decided, with the client’s input, to conduct two remote focus group interviews. The reasoning behind this choice was due to the accelerated timeline for the project, as well as Society Leaders’ schedules. We concluded on two remote sessions, each 90-minutes long with five participants in each group. Through these discussions we wanted to gain a deep understanding of the implications of new functionality in published articles, and how it might help/hinder societies, journals and users. These open-ended discussions gave us the opportunity to dig into the reasons for needing this new technology, the value it would bring and any perceived barriers. We focused solely on Society Leaders, as that was Wiley’s target audience when discussing this functionality.

My Process

1. Kick-off meetings and discussion guide creation
Who was involved: my colleague and me
- Our first step was to understand what Wiley was looking to accomplish from these interviews. For this information, we had several kick-off meetings to better understand their objectives, their reasons behind needing this research and what they were looking to get out of the research. We also discussed the types of users they wanted to interview, which were Society Leaders. Society Leaders hold advanced degrees in their respective fields and are very closely associated with the journals they represent online
- With the information from the kick-off meetings, I created a discussion guide with different sections corresponding to the information the internal stakeholders were interested in uncovering. Each section had open-ended questions based off of Wiley’s objectives and goals cited during the kick-off meetings. After the initial creation, we revised the document together and iterated on some sections

2. Interviews with Society Leaders
Who was involved: my colleague, internal stakeholders (listening in), me
- We scheduled focus groups, each 90 minutes long, with 4-5 Society Leaders in each group. Our sample was representative of the different fields represented on Wiley Online Library (ex: Biology, Geography, Psychiatry, etc.). Due to scheduling and location, the focus groups were remote and held online through GoToMeeting. Both sessions were recorded and I was able to take detailed notes


3. Synthesis
Who was involved: my colleague and me
- Directly after the research sessions, my colleague and I conducted a white-boarding session. We read over our notes and wrote down important insights or ideas on to post-it notes. Each idea or insight had its own posted note. We then put our post it notes on the board and categorized them into different groups, which became the themes we would present in the research summary.
- With these insights mapped out, I created a detailed research summary that highlighted the patterns and trends we had found, direct quotes from the interviews, as well as suggestions for direction and next steps

4. Presentation
Who was involved: my colleague, internal stakeholders, me
- We presented the research summary to all internal stakeholders and suggested next steps for the functionality and implementation of the new features


Who was involved: me, designers, product managers

Deliverables included: 
- Discussion guide
- Research notes
- Research presentation to internal stakeholders


With all the information gathered from the focus groups, we were able to present a very thorough summary of the research to the internal stakeholders, including detailed examples, direct quotes and suggestions for action items/next steps


- Working alongside a more senior UX researcher
- Doing research and synthesis back-to-back within a two week time frame was exciting
- Many of the internal stakeholders were very excited by the research and wanted to participate in discussions

- Working within a field I had little knowledge of
       - We had a few kick-off meetings to make sure we were all aligned on the discussion guide and participant selection
- I created documents with background information on each participant in order to better understand who we were speaking with
- Coming into a company project for a set time and then leaving immediately
       - It was really great to be able to conduct the research “in a vacuum” but I wish I could have seen the impact or conducted more research
- Using focus groups as a methodology
- I try to avoid focus groups as results can misrepresent the group and not everyone has the chance to speak up, however, this was the most efficient method for the timing of the project
- Creating a research summary powerpoint for clients I had never worked for
- I was unsure of their preferences in digesting research, but after several iterations, we had a very strong powerpoint presentation

Nikki AndersonComment