User research standards and principles

How we deliver user research in DfE, and the standards you must meet.

Our user research standards

We are introducing a set of standards so that you know what is expected of you as you do your work. You must meet these standards in your work.

We aim to have all of our standards published by April 2024.

Standard Status
Participant safeguarding in user research Beta
Personal data handling in user research Beta
User research planning In development
Keeping safe during user research In development
Inclusive user research In development

Assuring against our standards

We take a 'self assurance first' approach. Each standard includes a checklist of what you need to do. You must ensure you always meet all the requirements.

Sometimes your work may be reviewed by a senior or lead user researcher, so make sure you keep records, and are ready to demonstrate how you've met each standard in your research.

Help and advice

Each of our standards and principles includes links to guidance content and sources of help.

You can always ask for advice from:

The Service Standard

As well as our DfE user research standards, your work must always also meet the government Service Standard. This is the case whether or not your team will go through service assessments.

Visit our Apply the Service Standard in DfE manual

Our principles for good user research

Why we have standards and principles

We want DfE to be the best place in government to be a user researcher, and our research to always have genuine impact for our users.

Our user research standards help us all meet acceptable levels of quality, ethics and safety in our work.

Our principles help us understand what 'best practice' looks like, helping us deliver the highest quality work in the best possible way, developing our careers and the overall user research capability in the department while we do it.

With a couple of exceptions where we need to meet specific departmental processes, our standards and principles aren't intended to tell you how you should work. You and your team should develop ways of working that work for you, and that deliver high quality, safe and ethical user research.

How we developed them

Our standards and principles are owned, written and kept updated by user researchers across our DfE user research community. The head of user research is responsible for ensuring we have a set of professional standards, and this is part of DfE's Digital Data Technology strategy (DfE intranet).

You can give us feedback on them in the #user_research Slack channel (opens in a new tab), or by contacting the head of user research, Tom Adams.