How to write a good HCI research paper (tips from senior colleagues)
March 2016 (perspective of an assistant professor)
I've always found “how to write a research paper” guides to be underwhelming, since they're usually so general and high-level that they're useless. (“Your introduction should introduce your main idea, then the related work section should describe some related work ...”) Each academic field, sub-field, and sub-sub-field has different conventions for what makes a good research paper, and those conventions can change drastically over time. Thus, for any such writing guide to be useful, it must be targeted to a specific sub-field and reasonably up-to-date.
Here are two guides that I highly recommend for writing HCI (human-computer interaction) papers in the 2010-era. They were both created around 2015 by people who are very well-calibrated to the conventions of top-tier HCI research publications:
Although these guides contain lots of good general advice, they're probably most effective for papers submitted to HCI conferences such as CHI, UIST, and CSCW. They should also work well for software engineering or programmer productivity tools research submitted to conferences such as ICSE, FSE, ISSTA, and VL/HCC. They could also work for educational technology contributions submitted to conferences such as ICER and Learning at Scale, although reviewers from learning sciences or educational psychology backgrounds may be used to different conventions.
So read those two guides now! They're good not only for learning about how to write HCI papers, but also about how to formulate and execute on (hopefully) publishable HCI research ideas.
Additionally, the following articles could help you plan the evaluations and pitch the contributions of your research projects:
And this pair of gems from computer systems researcher Matt Welsh is worth reading, especially for folks working on HCI systems papers:
Finally, Writing the Empirical Journal Article by psychologist Daryl Bem can serve as a guide for writing HCI study papers.
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Last modified: 2016-03-06