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Minutes from Discussion About Publications

From the SIGCHI Executive Committee Meeting held January 15, 2005 in Portland, OR


Marilyn, accomplishments:
- interactions review completed
. input for editorial changes
. input for new editors (vision/requests)
. established survey method/process that worked well

- publications strategy initiative
. delivered online journal concept
. established "Best" awards process & policy (used by CHI-05 now)
. criteria for conference model & evaluations

- success metrics and clustering activity
. still needs work; where is this?

- increased flexibility while maintaining standards

- need an annual survey for authors & reviewers

- moving more content into the ACM DL
. needs more focused plan and execution

- survey of past submitters (accepted & rejected)
. tight sampling criteria
. still needs to gather lists from conferences
. does the EC continue to want this to move forward?

- getting "Best" awards and publications information into the CHI
. Jan 31 deadline for all EC materials in the Proceedings
Marilyn needs softcopy to get this started.

Joe notes: awards policy needs to be communicated to specialized
conferences. Coordinate with Ian.

Open action: getting acceptance rate info collected & published.

William plan forward:
- policies for reviewing and improving process have worked for CHI; is it
time to move these out to the other conferences?

- Discussion of the contribution/benefit framework. The contribution is
well understood, but we don't seem to understand what the papers'
benefits are, except perhaps to other researchers. Unclear how one
would tell if a paper was delivering benefit. There seems to be little
or no reference to CHI research in the interaction design literature,
nor in the literature of people who build interactive systems.
Basically, what's in the proceedings isn't being used.

Want to change that - want to have a "product" that delivers value.

Vision of CHI as a "craft" - how can research support that? There are
processes we understand to some degree to get interactive artifacts to
be usable, but for the most part it's creative craft. The community of
scientists that are producing research aren't able to connect with a
craft community.

One option is that HCI is moving towards being more of a science and
discipline and less of a craft. Science has more to say in that
respect. But CHI/CHI conferences can't really do much to force this to
happen. One thing that could be done (if we thought it was a good idea)
would be to help the CHI community understand what engineering means.
It is possible to do research that is relevant and valuable to

William notes he gets push-back when he proposes moving towards
engineering. In particular, there's a response that sees engineering as
formalized and rigid - the antithesis of design.

Question - can anything be done about this? Can SIGCHI do anything
about this? Can SIGCHI be the channel by which "engineering science"
gets delivered to the people who can use and who might even start asking
for it if they saw value in it.

Joe notes: in other disciplines the conference paper isn't often a
mechanism of this. Papers are refined into textbooks, or into "super"
journals where important innovative stuff is identified and synthesized
into generally usable knowledge.

Rob: citation isn't the only metric - students learn the stuff in CHI
papers through their instructors.

William: the current forms of papers at CHI are extremely difficult for
practitioners to use. Practitioners are constantly looking for things
relevant to what they're trying to solve. Novel (new) systems and studies
aren't usually that useful to practitioners.

William is proposing that this dichotomy be exposed to SIGCHI's
membership, with at least two acceptable outcomes. One would be that
people explicitly say they're happy with what they've got; another would
be a conscious move to more engineering-oriented science.

Discussion ensues. The note-taker participates in the discussion and
loses many of the specifics. The general concensus seems to be that this
is a worthwhile set of problems to be thinking about. No immediate
solutions present themselves, but perhaps we can look to other "soft"
sciences such as psychology, anthropology to see if their disciplinary
norms can help us understand how to move into more scientific directions
without being locked into unnecessary rigidity.

Nobody wants to stop the research that's being done; rather we want to
encourage and reward people to move in new directions. Why can't CHI
handle new ideas, surveys, analyses?

Question: what venue(s) are appropriate for this? Is CHI the right
conference? Are papers the right avenue?

Joe: what about constituting a Pubs Board that felt this way and charged
them with looking seriously at how we disseminate knowledge and identify
how that can be done better?


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