01 See #TiSDD chapter 9.2.2, Preparatory research, for a brief description of the importance of prep research for the overall service design process.
Preparatory research (or simply “prep research”) often includes digging deeper into the client’s perspective of what the research problem is, their context, perceptions, internal conflicts, or interplays that may emerge during the project, and so on. Initial internal interviews in the organization are always very enlightening and provide a good starting point. Digging deeper also helps recognize whether stakeholders are aligned in their vision and understanding of the problem or need that the research is seeking to address. 
The aim of prep research is to learn more about an industry, an organization, competitors, similar products, goods, services, or comparable experiences. Prep research can include screening social media posts or hashtags for a certain research field, keyword, technology, or industry. It can include reading industry-specific scientific or special-interest publications, but also newspapers or general-interest magazines as well as listening to podcasts, online videos, or conference talks. Also, it can include a quick co-creative session with team members, colleagues, users, customers, or stakeholders to learn which different perspectives you need to consider in your research, potential leads for your further preparation and who might be a good fit to include in your research team. Often prep research starts with very wide research questions or topics, from very soft topics such as “How does home feel like?” or “What is trust?” to rather specific topics such as “Who are potential competitors?” or “Where else is this technology used?”.
Prep research can result in a summary of text snippets, but also a collection of photos, screenshots, or videos visualized, for example, as a mind map or mood board.