Introduction to the Course

Download the lecture slides.

Before we begin, please have a read over the following materials:

  • Susanne Bødker, Kasper Hornbæk, Antti Oulasvirta, and Stuart Reeves. 2016. Nine questions for HCI researchers in the making. interactions 23, 4 (June 2016), 58-61. DOI: 10.1145/2949686
  • Antti Oulasvirta and Kasper Hornbæk. 2016. HCI Research as Problem-Solving. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 4956-4967. DOI: 10.1145/2858036.2858283

I would also like to reiterate the nine questions for HCI researchers in the making here:

  1. If you could address just one problem in 10 years, what would it be?
  2. Are you using your unique situation and resources to the fullest?
  3. What’s your HCI research genre?
  4. In one sentence, what is the contribution of your research?
  5. Is your approach right for your research topic?
  6. Why is your research interesting?
  7. Can you fail in trying to answer the research problem?
  8. Will your work open new possibilities of research?
  9. Why do you build/prototype?

These questions are really good starting points to give you bearings on your research direction.

I would also like to point you to the results from my questionnaire for CHI researchers about writing. Interestingly in the survey researchers rated the importance of the Introduction and Results section almost equally high (with the Results coming out on top) and were not giving as much love to the Discussion section. In my interviews, however, the introduction and discussion were mentioned as important sections.

The key ingredients for CHI research papers mentioned in the survey were:

  • Content:
    • Clear framing
    • Interesting topic
    • Novelty
    • Clear contribution
    • Problem worth solving
      • A good problem, motivated by the literature
    • A novel and ambitious solution for the problem (e.g., in terms of system, evaluation, data collection)
    • Convincing evaluation
      • Sound methods
    • Considering all relevant implications
  • Style:
    • Well structured
    • Appropriate language
  • A discussion that allows the solution to be transferred to other problem instances and related to what we knew in advance
  • Key ingredients are believable answers to a design question that is not obvious or a novel system.
  • Clear contribution to the field, sufficient proof for valid claims, usage of a scientifically valid methodology (depending on the type of contribution)
  • A clear description of the (usually applied) research problem
  • Clearly articulated research question
  • Clear description of related work
  • Clear description of a valid method for finding the answer to the question
  • Clear description of a valid approach to data analysis good discussion with some implications for design for luck lots of luck in getting a good set of reviewers
  • Being clear about the intellectual contribution to HCI research itself
  • A clear contribution
  • Well-executed user involvement
  • Making sure you have enough users, not just testing with students
  • Deep and broad referencing
  • A well-written abstract
  • Novelty
  • Method
  • Rigor
  • Clear scope
  • Acknowledging the subcommittee / audience you write for

Besides asking for key ingredients in CHI papers, I also asked survey respondents for the main piece of advice for aspiring CHI authors:

  • Convince your AC and you have a chance. Reviewers don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. If your paper is even close to getting in in November, a strong rebuttal and an advocate on the AC is all you need.
  • Budget a lot of time.
  • Picking the most appropriate subcommittee makes a big difference.
  • Pick a good problem; know the literature; start early; get feedback; discuss with earlier work; be bold.
  • Don’t consider CHI as the only premier venue – in-depth specialised papers have a better place at the specialised SIGCHI conferences. Don’t focus on style, focus on correctness, scientific validity and on a contribution that you think changes or progresses the field significantly. Don’t submit 5+ papers a year, make your contribution count. CHI is not an outlet store, it is a scientific conference. (Sometimes, I’m also guilty doing this)
  • Iterate. Don’t leave writing until the last minute. Expect to fail (you can always send it to a journal – seriously).
  • Make it a good one. Do not provide variations of the same thing. Choose and do so honestly a few wise reviewers.