If I have a question that is along the lines of "A versus B, is there publicly available research available" is this on topic for this site?

I do not want blog posts or opinion, but I'm not sure if asking a question that is similar to what you would ask the reference desk at the library is appropriate here. It is hard to do google searches on a topic that returns actual research, which is why I would think posting here might be appropriate?

  • 2
    FWIW, this is one of my favorite questions/answers on the site, even if I had to do all the work myself: What research is there suggesting modal dialogs are disruptive?. But it's important not to ask them lazily or for stuff it's unreasonable to expect research in (has anyone A/B tested yellow vs pink buttons for mobile social eCommerce serious games on Android?).
    – Zelda
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 16:53
  • That's a great example, thanks for sharing. I agree on the standard being within the scope of reason and need Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Yes and no.

Straight questions such as your A vs B example could verge on shopping requests or at worst LMGTFY ones; neither of which are particularly constructive for this site.

However, if you have a particular problem that you need solving and research is going to be the only real way of solving it then you can request such research while outlining the actual problem you are having. For example if you are doing some work for a stakeholder who absolutely insists on having a Contact Us form with 25 different fields in it and the only way s/he can be convinced it's a bad idea is with some solid research then such a question would be OK, provided you specify the actual problem you have and explain why answers with research would be better.

Answers that have research attached are far more useful in general anyway, so in many cases it would go without saying that attaching some research to an answer is going to be better than not doing so.

Really, Stack Exchange is a repository for good questions and good answers. A request for a piece of research isn't really an interesting or useful question, but a question that explains a particular problem, requesting that some hard evidence be included in the answer is more beneficial and welcome.

Finally, be careful that you don't put people off answering. If you have a question and explicitly request that answers have to include research you may miss out on some valuable and interesting answers from people who can answer from experience but not from research.

  • Great points--I think that you touched on the key point I was wondering about which is where the need is not only to find a good answer but to back that approach up with sources that validate it for those who need a little more than "take my word for it". Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 18:02
  • A related question, to avoid the LMGTFY angle a bit--are there scholarly journals for the UX field that one can go to directly? Like a UX JSTOR? In general I find answers that have links to studies that provide in depth analysis of a topic are always the most valuable and useful to me, however I don't know where I can find these on my own and Google searches often end in frustration due to the signal/noise ratio of research/blog posts Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 18:05
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    @Charles best place to look is a Google Scholar search, lots of HCI research (usually from ACM) is out there, and sometimes relevant psychology stuff
    – Zelda
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 19:14

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