I love this question and the notion of approaching one’s job as a mission, especially in a domain so esoteric and poorly understood as user experience design research.
Unclear expectations are the scourge of the modern knowledge worker. When you don’t know what is expected of you or your teammates or why, how can you chart progress? How can you gauge impact? Job or role descriptions are more like a la carte menu of everything people can expect you to be able to do, regardless of why. But the “why” is important because people aren’t motivated by tasks, they’re motivated by purpose.
People can get a sense of purpose by working at the intersection of what they’re passionate about, what they’re good at and what moves the work forward and makes progress you can see.
In one of my former roles, our small team was really struggling with unclear expectations. As we tried to self-organize better I floated the idea of role-based purpose statements. The idea is no different than a well-crafted mission statement used to rally a company of thousands of people under a common expectation.
Maybe I’m ignorant and role-based purpose statements are already a thing and I just haven’t seen it done. Perhaps it’s not common yet because it adds more work. It forces people to think beyond the boilerplate job descriptions and communicate value about individuals and their unique potential, and then tie that back to a larger mission and vision.
I think the same exercise applies to a domain-level concern, like design research. Why can’t you draft a mission/purpose/strategy statement that describes in 1 sentence the reason design research exists within your organization at all? E.g.
Delivering value through UX design begins with understanding our users and what they value. It is therefore the mission of design research to ensure that our work is informed by and measured against the needs of our users, as discovered through systematic study and application of good user research practices.
(Or whatever, text TBD, but not the point.) Point being that it is far less important what such a thing actually look and read and feel like - hallway poster, 10-page essay, splash screen on the internet or placard on your cubicle - as what it is meant for and how it actually gets used. But if you had such a thing, whatever form it took, then theoretically you could set clear expectations for those you work with in terms of what research and you could/should be doing for them. Any ad hoc requests would have to reconcile with that mission.