Although we may not intend it, research sessions inherently create a power dynamic where the moderator is in control. We want to take care of our veteran participants' mental health, empower them, and make them feel like an important part in this process. Comfortable, empowered participants tend to be better participants, meaning we can end end up collecting more and more reliable data.

One way to level out this power dynamic is to let participants help us build their session. For example they aren’t compelled to answer a question if it makes them feel uncomfortable. Another way to shift the power dynamic is with observers - limiting their number and allowing our participants a say in how many join.

Limit number of observers

Observing research is important for product owners, developers, and other stakeholders and teammates. However, seeing a dozen faceless and nameless boxes on screen can be intimidating or worse, triggering. To balanced the desire to include observers with participants' emotional needs:

  • Limit total VA attendance to 5-6 per session, including moderator and note taker

    • Notetaker and moderator should be considered minimum VA attendance for most sessions.

    • Observers should then be no more than 3-4 per session

Unacceptable ways to join a session

  • There should be no “back door” sessions where one Zoom window is actually multiple people. This is dishonest to the participant and doing so by using a second Zoom account or video service could also expose participants' data.

  • Everyone who is joining a session should join directly to the Perigean account’s Zoom session so that 1 person is 1 zoom box