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Bringing in Research Conducted Outside of Handrail

While Handrail provides integrated user research workflows, we also support logging research done outside Handrail and even performing analysis on external sources of data.

How to Log Different Types of Research

Logging Interviews and Observational Studies


If you already have interview or observational data from previously completed research sessions, you can log the data in Handrail to perform analysis or just to store it for later reference. You can provide as much structure to your data as you would like. The most efficient way to log existing data is to create new sessions using the default interview guide and to paste data into the "Session Notes" section for each respective session. To have your data structured question by question, you will first need to create a "Structured Interview" type of study and then create an interview guide that mimics the one used to collect the data. Below are instructions for the most efficient but least structured way to log existing data.

To log existing interview/observational data efficiently:

  1. Within a workspace, select Create Study.
  2. For more efficient data logging (resulting in less structured data), you may select either Open Interview or Structured Interview.
  3. If using the default interview guide (single topic with no questions), navigate to the Sessions page.
  4. Select "+ Session" to create a new session.
  5. Optionally, enter the participant's information (if no information is entered, an anonymous participant will be generated with a unique ID).
  6. At the bottom of the screen, open the Session Notes panel and paste in all data for this session.
  7. At the top of the screen, select Exit Session > Complete Session > Submit.
  8. Repeat steps 4–7 for all sessions for which you have data.
  9. If you wish to perform analysis on the data, it is now available for review on the Results page. If you are simply logging the data for future reference, you may now wish to move on to fill out the Summary Report, providing anyone referencing this study with key findings and sufficient context to understand their implications.

Logging Surveys


Handrail does not currently support importing of survey data (for example, from CSV or Excel) but will in the future. It is possible to manually enter survey data into Handrail, but this is only practical for small numbers of participants. If the survey data is hosted online (for example, in another tool like SurveyMonkey), we suggest using a reference study to log and access the data from within Handrail. Continue reading for details on the use of reference studies.

Logging Other Types of Research (using a reference study)



The "Reference" type of study in Handrail can be used to do any of the following activities:

  • Log any study for which the data was collected outside of Handrail
  • Bring together one or more sources of data to perform analysis across them
  • Perform secondary research, referencing online articles and reports (including PDFs, if they are available via a URL)


To create a reference study and log data sources:

  1. Within a workspace, select Create Study.
  2. Select Reference.
  3. Navigate to the Sources page.
  4. Select Add Source.
  5. Enter the source information (title and URL, optionally description and tags) and select Save.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for all sources you would like to include.
  7. At this point, you may take notes on individual data sources, create snippets from the notes, and perform further analysis across data sources using cards and the Analysis Board. See Analyzing Data for details.


Sources page of a Reference study with multiple data sources:


NOTE: In the future, reference studies will allow you not only to log online data sources but also to upload files containing data (PDFs, Word docs, Excel files, etc.).



Need more information or have questions we didn't cover here? Get in touch!