Research Speed Dating

Here’s what we did in Resarch Speed Dating on Harakka Island:

We had 16 people participating. There were eight locations, two people sitting at each table, bench or other location. One person in each location stayed in place while the others circulated from location to location.

In preparation to short discussions on the speed dates, everyone filled out a questionnaire. How lightly or seriously it was taken was everyone’s personal choice, however it was good to keep in mind to only write down things that the participants were willing to show to anyone participating in the event.

This time, the questionnaire looked like this (photo published with permission from the speed dater whose answers you are seeing):

For me, the most prominent feature of the speed dates was to experience how differently each of the five conversations that I had with different people emerged and developed. It was wonderful to get a glimpse of different people’s ways of thinking and approaching things. And I did not realize I was a researcher kangaroo until I wrote it down!


Also I came to understand that  Research Speed Dating is a complete paradox – (high) speed rarely is an appropriate word to describe research or the mindset of people conducting research! However, sometimes a new approach can offer a much needed new perspective and lead to new kind of thinking.

As part of my participation in the Nordic Summer School’s 2020 (Dis)Symposium Pleasure and Playfulness in Times of Crisis, I conducted an event of Research Speed Dating on Harakka Island, on 26th July 2020, in the two-day program of the symposium’s Helsinki gathering. 

Research Speed Dating is a playful way for artistic researcher colleagues to get to know each other and themselves a bit better or from a different point of view. It is based on the formula of regular speed dating but with no objective to find a “partner”. However, people finding common ground may result in further conversations and collaborations. 

Research Speed Dating has come about from my aim to come up with some quick and playful way to approach my slow research topic - how to support participant’s sense of self or self-knowledge through dance pedagogy – in social colleague situations. 

We had five speed dates of five minutes each. The participants let their date partners read their questionnaires at the beginning of each encounter and the conversations spurred on from there.

After five dates, we took time to reflect the experience privately in writing and in the end had a short discussion all together.