Just want to point out that the thing about research is that you can criticize it, replicate it, and/or improve upon it. This relies, of course, on a basic assumption that everyone involved (researchers and critics) understands what research is. Are there a lot of people out there masquerading as User Researchers who have never taken Research Methods or Statistics? Maybe... I don't know the answer to that, but I sure hope not.
I'm talking about giving basic background, stating a hypothesis, describing your methods of testing it, your results, and your conclusions. Now, maybe user research isn't always following the old formula. I know that some methods follow a more anthropological field study approach, rather than cognitive psychology's hypothesis testing. But both use research methods. There are times when you can break the rules, but you should *know* that you are breaking them.
I do think that if more people had an understanding of quantitative and qualitative statistics and what inferences you can and cannot draw from them, there would be FAR reaching consequences not just for research and design, not just for science, but for society and politics as well!
Yes, yes, all of you fabulous designers out there have good intuition and come up with great ideas sometimes without research. Sometimes we don't have the luxury of research. But think how much better we would all be if we can use it when we have the chance. And there is no better place for a junior designer to start than looking at data.
Sneak preview the all-new Yahoo.com. It's not radically different. Just radically better.