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How to write a CHI paper


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Course notes from presentations given at Beijing University of Post and Telecommunication, the University of Nanjing, and Baidu in 2018

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How to write a CHI paper

  1. 1. How to Write a (CHI) Paper Dr Maria Wolters WeChat: mariawolters Reader in Design Informatics, University of Edinburgh 爱丁堡⼤学
  2. 2. Learning Outcomes ❖ Find the right community for your research ❖ Adapt your work so that it fits the standards of the community where you want to publish ❖ Write your paper so that reviewers can understand easily that you make a significant, methodologically sound contribution ❖ Use reviewer feedback to improve your work ❖ Learn from good papers
  3. 3. My Background ❖ Editorial Board of two high impact journals: ❖ Interacting with Computers ❖ ACM Transactions on Accessibility ❖ Programme Committee, ACM SIGASSETS ❖ Associate Chair, ACM SIGCHI (Health Subcommittee) ❖ 对不起, 我的中⽂不很好。。。
  4. 4. This Lecture Will Be Interactive ❖ I will ask questions on WeChat ❖ I will invite comments on WeChat ❖ Write in Chinese if you like. WeChat has a translate button ❖ You will analyse sample abstracts
  5. 5. There is a Textbook! ❖ Rowena Murray (2013): Writing for Academic Journals. Third Edition. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press / McGraw-Hill ❖ Also check out - Lennart Nacke’s course (CHI Play community)
  6. 6. ❖ Remember: Everyone gets rejected! Even Paper Chairs. ❖ I reworked my first rejected CHI paper and it was published in Interacting with Computers
  7. 7. Structure ❖ Why do you write papers? ❖ Finding and targeting a community ❖ Analysing sample papers ❖ Writing tips ❖ Reviewer feedback
  8. 8. Why Do You Write Papers?
  9. 9. Some Possible Reasons ❖ share my findings with the world! ❖ get tenure. ❖ have an academic career. ❖ be cited. ❖ get Honourable Mentions / Best Paper Awards. ❖ …
  10. 10. Activity: Why do you write? ❖ Write your answer down. ❖ Post it to the WeChat group.
  11. 11. Why Goals Matter ❖ If you want to share your findings with the right people, you may choose a smaller, less prestigious venue. Within CHI, alt.chi / Late Breaking Work ❖ If you need to get tenure, you need to publish in certain journals / conferences ❖ If you need paper awards, you need to study previous Best Papers ❖ But Best Papers are not always the most cited ones …
  12. 12. Finding Your Community
  13. 13. Example: ACM SIGCHI ❖ big conference, 25% acceptance rate ❖ is next!
  14. 14. Two CHI Secrets ❖ CHI is not one community, it is a mix of communities. Each of these communities has its own standards. Subcommittees of the Programme Committee represent one or more communities ❖ Not all research on human technology interaction is suitable for CHI. Alternatives include ❖ Human Factors ❖ Ergonomics ❖ Specialist branches, e.g. Medical Informatics
  15. 15. Activity: Who Are You? ❖ Think about one or more of the following prompts for the next 5 minutes: (from Murray, 2013) ❖ What I am interested in is … ❖ I did a couple of studies that looked at … ❖ I could do better than … ❖ I’d like to write about … ❖ The paper on … by … is close to what I would like to do ❖ Post your response on the WeChat group, if you like.
  16. 16. Example 1: Specific Applications This subcommittee is suitable for  papers that extend the design and understanding of applications for specific application areas or domains of interest to the HCI community, yet not explicitly covered by another subcommittee. Example application areas and user groups are listed below. Submissions will be evaluated in part based on their impact on the specific application area and/or group that they address, in addition to their impact on HCI. Example user groups: children, families, people in developing countries, employees, charities and third sector organisations Example application areas: education, home, sustainability, ICT4D, creativity
  17. 17. Example 2: Health, Accessibility, and Ageing The “health” component of this subcommittee is suitable for contributions related to health, wellness, and medicine, including • physical, mental, and emotional well-being • clinical environments • self-management • everyday wellness. The “accessibility and ageing” subcommittee is suitable for contributions related to accessibility for people with disabilities and/or technology for and studies involving older adults (i.e., senior citizens). Please add the keyword “health,” “accessibility,” or “older adults” as appropriate to your submission in PCS so that we can be sure to direct your submission to the appropriate subset of this committee.
  18. 18. We strongly suggest that authors review this Accessible Writing Guide in order to adopt a writing style that refers to stakeholder groups using appropriate terminology. Submissions to this subcommittee will be evaluated in part based on their inclusion of and potential impact on their target user groups and other stakeholders. This subcommittee balances the rigour required in all CHI submissions with awareness of the challenges of conducting research in these important areas. This subcommittee welcomes all contributions related to health, accessibility, and aging, including empirical, theoretical, conceptual, methodological, design, and systems contributions.
  19. 19. Activity: Which CHI Subcommittee are you? ❖ Read through the subcommittee descriptions on ❖ Does the description fit what you do? ❖ Has one of the SCs or ACs published a paper that is relevant to you? ❖ Post your subcommittee to WeChat. If you don’t know which to select, post your question
  20. 20. What is Acceptable? ❖ Learn from what is being accepted in your target community. This changes over time. ❖ What types of papers does the subcommittee cover? ❖ How do they evaluate quality? ❖ Read everything about submitting and writing papers carefully ❖ CHI web site - everything for authors and reviewers ❖ Journals - instructions for authors
  21. 21. How to Analyse Your Target (Murray 2013) ❖ Read the full instructions for authors ❖ Read relevant titles and abstracts ❖ Skim and scan the last few years / issues. What topics occur? How are they analysed? What types of topics are appropriate? ❖ How are the papers divided? What are typical headings and subheadings? How long is each section ❖ What methods are used? ❖ What are the key theoretical frameworks?
  22. 22. Implications for Design ❖ CHI papers will typically have „Implications for Design“ - what is generalisable? What can the community learn from this? ❖ For example, what can we learn from this paper that will help us make technology easier to use or change the way we look at how people interact with technology?
  23. 23. What are Other People Doing? ❖ Search relevant databases: ❖ ACM Digital Library ❖ IEEE Explore ❖ Web of Science ❖ use different keywords ❖ search forwards and backwards from citations ❖ Check out other relevant communities.
  24. 24. Activity: Generating Keywords ❖ For your target work, generate your normal keywords, and some alternatives. Check what you find in the ACM digital library ❖ Post your experience on WeChat
  25. 25. Sample Papers
  26. 26. Sources of Sample Papers ❖ Highly cited CHI papers from the last 2-5 years in your community ❖ CHI papers listed on the Subcommittee pages ❖ Best papers / honourable mentions
  27. 27. Activity: Find Sample Paper(s) ❖ Find a sample paper or two. ❖ Post to the group why you chose that paper.
  28. 28. Activity: What is the Gap / the Contribution? ❖ How is the literature described? deficient, open to debate, incomplete, missing components, narrow … ❖ What is the main contribution, and how does it relate to the gap?
  29. 29. Activity: Where is the User? ❖ How are users involved? ❖ At what stages of the research process? ❖ To what extent are questionnaires and interviews used?
  30. 30. Activity: Structural Analysis ❖ What are the headings and subheadings? How long is each section in columns? ❖ What methods are used? ❖ What are the key theoretical frameworks? ❖ At what stage are users and other stakeholders involved?
  31. 31. Writing Tips
  32. 32. A Summary of Your Story - Murray’s Prompts ❖ This work needed to be done because … (25 words) ❖ Those who will benefit include … (25 words) ❖ What I did was … (50 words) ❖ How I did that was by … (50 words) ❖ What happened was that … (50 words)
  33. 33. ❖ I worked out what that meant by using … (50 words) ❖ I did what I set out to do to the extent that … (50 words) ❖ The implications for research are … (25 words) ❖ The implications for practice are … (25 words) ❖ What still needs to be done is … (25 words)
  34. 34. Activity: Abstract Analysis ❖ Take your sample paper and see how and where it addresses Murray’s prompts
  35. 35. New Writers’ Errors (Murray 2013) ❖ Writing too much about the research „problem“ ❖ Overstating the problem and claiming too much for your solutions ❖ Not saying what you mean - be very direct and clear in your writing ❖ Putting too many ideas in one paper.
  36. 36. Observing Writing ❖ What do you say when you want to tell someone that it is now time for you to leave? I bet you don’t say 
 现在我们要去 xiàn zài wǒ men yào qù (now we will go) ❖ For the full story, see https:// agree-with-this-important-rule-for-language-learning/ ❖ You need to analyse how native speaker authors write ❖ concentrate on UK / US / Australian authors
  37. 37. What to Observe (A Start) ❖ How do authors start a paragraph? Topic sentences at the start of a paragraph often indicate what the paragraph is about ❖ How do authors refer to the literature? How do they cite? How do they say what others found, thought, argued? ❖ What conjunctions do they use for linking arguments? ❖ How do authors refer to their users and stakeholders?
  38. 38. Clear Writing ❖ If you struggle with English, use clear, simple sentences. ❖ When translating, make sure that the words mean what you think they mean. Look them up on to see them used in context ❖ Be particularly careful with words that are relevant to your key findings
  39. 39. Reviewer Feedback
  40. 40. Review Processes Vary ❖ Journal: subeditor sends to reviewers, reviewers submit review, then it can be accept (very rare!), minor revision, major revision, authors send revised version … with several cycles ❖ CHI: ACs send to reviewers and write meta-reviews, reviews are discussed online and sent to authors, authors can submit rebuttal, rebuttal is discussed online, and finally, reviews and rebuttal are discussed within SC ❖ ASSETS: Paper chairs ask programme committee to review, authors can submit rebuttal, reviewers discuss online
  41. 41. CHI Reviewer Guidelines ◦ Significance of the paper’s contribution to HCI and the benefit that others can gain from the contribution: 
 why do the contribution and benefit matter? ◦ Originality of the work: 
 what new ideas or approaches are introduced? We want to emphasise that an acceptable paper must make a clear contribution to Human Computer Interaction ◦ Validity of the work presented: 
 how confidently can researchers and practitioners use the results? ◦ Presentation clarity ◦ Relevant previous work: 
 is prior work adequately reviewed?
  42. 42. Tips ❖ Review each other’s work before submission ❖ When you get the reviews, extract action points: what needs to change? What was not clear? What needs to be explained better, so that reviewers will understand? ❖ The AC will tell you what you need to change and address in the rebuttal in their meta-review
  43. 43. Summary ❖ Tell a story that matters to your audience ❖ Keep it clear and simple ❖ Everyone gets rejected - learn from feedback and try again! Contact: Maria Wolters,, WeChat Mariawolters