Courses

This course has been taught at CHI three times and before that at CHI PLAY and SIGCHI summer schools and via invitations at several institutions. It is highly popular with young CHI researchers. The instructor is also available to teach this course at your institution and the course has been taught as part of research skills workshops across the world.

The CHI 2019 Third Edition of this course is listed below.

CHI 2019 Schedule

EVALUATE THIS COURSE NOW

Some core information and materials for this course:

  1. Link to the course description of ‘How to Write CHI Papers (Third Edition)’ by Lennart E. Nacke in the ACM Digital Library
  2. The event page for ‘How to Write CHI Papers (Third Edition) at CHI 2019’ on Facebook, please join for live discussions during the conference.
  3. Sign up for free course updates now.
  4. Brainstorm your 4 questions about your paper here.
  5. Soon, there’ll be a podcast, too.
  6. Jess Korte’s course notes

CHI 2019 Course Unit 1: Structure

TimeContent
11:00 – 11:09Introduction and Goals
11:10 – 11:49Micro Lecture: Structuring your Introduction and Research
11:50 – 12:20Tutorial: Dissecting a CHI Paper
12:20 – 14:00Lunch Break

CHI 2019 Course Unit 2: Abstract and Intro

TimeContent
14:00 – 14:10Recap: Where are we?
14:11 – 15:20Exercise: Writing the Abstract and Introduction
15:20 – 16:00Coffee Break

CHI 2019 Course Unit 3

TimeContent
16:00 – 16:29Revision of CHI Paper Structure
16:30 – 17:20Exercise: Tutorial and Exercise: Bullet pointing the full CHI paper
The CHI 2018 version of the course is listed below.

CHI 2018 Schedule

This course was taking place at CHI 2018 (Palais des Congrès de Montréal) in Room: 524C on Monday, 23rd of April 2018.

CHI 2018 Course Unit 1

TimeContent
11:30-11:40Introduction and Goals
11:40-12:10Micro Lecture: Structuring your Research
12:10-12:50Tutorial: Dissecting a CHI Paper
12:50-14:30Lunch Break

CHI 2018 Course Unit 2

TimeContent
14:30-14:40Recap (Recover from Lunch)
14:40-15:00Micro Lecture: The Importance of the Introduction
15:00-15:50Exercise: Writing the Abstract and Introduction
15:50-16:30Coffee Break

CHI 2018 Course Unit 3

TimeContent
16:30-16:40Revision of CHI Paper Structure
16:40-17:50Tutorial and Exercise: Bullet pointing the CHI paper

Tutorial: Dissecting a CHI Paper

Structured discussion of the following paper:

  • Read the paper(s).
  • Which parts of the paper are excellent? Why do you think they are?
  • What is the structure of the paper?

Dissecting the Abstract

Lay of the land, explaining why the problem is relevant and matters:

In the physical world, teammates develop situation awareness about each other’s location, status, and actions through cues such as gaze direction and ambient noise. To support situation awareness, distributed multiplayer games provide awareness cues—information that games automatically make available to players to support cooperative gameplay.

The actual research problem:

The design of awareness cues can be extremely complex, impacting how players experience games and work with teammatesDespite the importance of awareness cues, designers have little beyond experiential knowledge to guide their design.

How we are addressing the research gap or problem:

In this work, we describe a design framework for awareness cues, providing insight into what information they provide, how they communicate this information, and how design choices can impact play experience.

Our contribution to CHI and takeaways:

Our research, based on a grounded theory analysis of current games, is the first to provide a characterization of awareness cues, providing a palette for game designers to improve design practice and a starting point for deeper research into collaborative play.

Dissecting the Introduction

Lay of the land, explaining why the problem is relevant and matters:

Teams working together in the physical world develop situation awareness […]. Distributed games help players coordinate by providing awareness cues —information that systems automatically make available to collaborators to support cooperative actions […], awareness cues must be designed to provide the right information at the right time. […]

Why the problem is an important one:

Since teammates in distributed games are largely experienced through awareness cues, the principal challenge for game designers is to create tools that will provide the right information at the right time [62]. The design tension is to balance this information with ensuring that the game remains challenging, so giving a player omniscience is undesirable. […]

How we are solving the problem:

Using a grounded theory approach, we examined 24 games[…].

How we structured solving the problem and our paper:

We do this by first articulating the information made available through awareness cues to teammates. Second, we describe the essential design dimensions of awareness cues and how they make teammate information available. Third, we discuss potential consequences for games and play experience when particular design choices are made.

Why our research matters:

While prior work has considered synchronous verbal communications […], our work focuses on the understudied tools and techniques that games use to support coordination, which are made available to players without explicit effort.

Our main contribution to CHI:

Building on previous work in awareness, this work makes two main contributions. First, we provide a palette for game designers and researchers to identify and devise new awareness cues depending on the game experience they want to target. We expect that users of games (players and viewers) influence how cues should be designed and also consider how players adapt their play experience through cues. Second, we provide a starting point for future research and for informed design practices around awareness cues in online games, and in groupware more broadly.


Exercise: Writing the CHI Abstract and Introduction

  • Build a brief research plan for a CHI publication (10 minutes)
    • Problem statement
    • Indication of your methodology
    • Anticipated main findings
    • Anticipated conclusions

Now, write your own Title, Abstract, and Introduction for the research plan you have developed (30 minutes). Use the four questions to guide you through the process of writing a fictional CHI paper about this research topic that you have in mind:

  1. What is the real-world problem that we are trying to solve?
  2. Why is it important to solve this problem?
  3. What is the solution that we came up with to solve it?
  4. How do we know that the solution is a good solution to the problem?

Pass around your written paragraphs and discuss them in groups (of 3-4), I will assist. 20 minutes for discussions.


Tutorial and Exercise: Bullet pointing the CHI paper

Use the four questions to guide you through the process of writing a fictional CHI paper about this research topic that you have in mind:

  1. What is the real-world problem that we are trying to solve?
  2. Why is it important to solve this problem?
  3. What is the solution that we came up with to solve it?
  4. How do we know that the solution is a good solution to the problem?

Use the same process as many CHI authors: 

  • Sketch the rough answers to each question into bullet points
  • Get together a maximum of 15 bullet points among all 4 questions
  • Start writing out the bullet points into paragraphs
    • What contribution do you envision?
    • What research plan do you foresee?
    • Can you expand on your existing work?
    • What results do you need?

If you have time, use the nine-step editing system:

  1. Read through your text
  2. Break it up into points (ideas, thoughts, arguments)
  3.  Make sure every single point makes sense
  4.  Delete non-essential or redundant points
  5.  Make sure each point is unique and distinguished enough
  6.  Create sections by creating categories for the points
  7. Make the sections flow into one another
  8.  Sort your points into the categories
  9.  Make it read well by focusing on simple, clear, and elegant language

I will come around and assist your writing.


The CHI 2017 version of the course is listed below.

CHI 2017 Schedule

Writing Unit Schedule

9:30-10:50Writing Unit
9:30-9:35Intro and Goals
9:36-10:00Micro Lecture: Clarity and Structure
10:01-10:20Exercise: Structuring CHI Research
10:21-10:50Exercise: Writing the Introduction

Reviewing Unit Schedule

11:30-12:50Reviewing Unit
11:30-11:40Recap
11:41-12:00Micro Lecture: On Reviewing for SIGCHI
12:01-12:20Exercise: Dissecting a CHI Paper
12:21-12:50Exercise: Writing a Helpful Review

Download Slides

Writing Exercise 1: Structuring Your CHI Research

Download Course Handouts

  • Build a brief research plan for a CHI publication (10 minutes)
    • Problem statement
    • Indication of your methodology
    • Anticipated main findings
    • Anticipated conclusions
  • Present your plans to the group with a brief discussion (10 minutes) of structural flaws or strengths – we will all try to critique the plans

Writing Exercise 2: Writing the Introduction

Now, write your own Title, Abstract, and Introduction for the research plan you have developed (30 minutes). Use the four questions to guide you through the process of writing a fictional CHI paper about this research topic that you have in mind:

  1. What is the real-world problem that we are trying to solve?
  2. Why is it important to solve this problem?
  3. What is the solution that we came up with to solve it?
  4. How do we know that the solution is a good solution to the problem?

Use the same process as many CHI authors: 

  • Sketch the rough answers to each question into bullet points
  • Get together a maximum of 15 bullet points among all 4 questions
  • Start writing out the bullet points into paragraphs
  • Pass around your written paragraphs and discuss them in groups, I will assist.

Reviewing Exercise 1: Dissecting a CHI Paper

Structured discussion of the following paper:

Matthew Kay, Tara Kola, Jessica R. Hullman, and Sean A. Munson. 2016. When (ish) is My Bus?: User-centered Visualizations of Uncertainty in Everyday, Mobile Predictive Systems. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 5092-5103. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2858036.2858558

  • Read the paper.
  • Which parts of the paper are excellent?
  • Why do you think they are excellent?

Reviewing Exercise 2: Writing a Helpful Review

Read and annotate one of these papers:

Write a review with a focus on:

  • Reflecting on the contributions
  • Discussing the weaknesses and limitations in a positive way
  • Calling out the strengths and utility of the work
  • Discuss!

The first CHI PLAY 2016 version of the course is listed below.

CHI PLAY 2016 Schedule

CHI PLAY Course Schedule for Sunday, 16 October 2016
Please bring some examples from your own recent writing to this course. This can be a thesis abstract, some unpublished papers, or just something you have written recently.

Time Content
09:00-10:30 Lecture: Introduction to the Course (Read Interview with Carl Gutwin)
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00-12:30 Exercise: Structure
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:30-16:00 Exercise: Style
16:00-16:30 Coffee Break
16:30-17:45 Writing doctors: Bring your own manuscripts and let’s dissect them.

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 framingInteresting topic
  • Novelty
  • Clear contribution
  • Problem worth solving
  • 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
  • A clear description of related work
  • A clear description of a valid method for finding the answer to the question
  • A 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
  • Rigour
  • 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 specialized papers have a better place at the specialized 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.