Guide to a Successful Extended Abstracts Submission

While the emphasis of submissions to the HCI Archive is on the long lasting contributions of rigorous research (i.e. the content should be correct and repeatable), the emphasis of submissions to the Contemporary Trends section should be on the immediate relevance of the material to practitioners (i.e. the content should be pertinent and timely). Because of this distinction, authors should consider very different questions as they produce their submission. Unlike the HCI Archive, acceptance of Contemporary Trends submissions will focus less on rigorous examination of methodology or statistical significance. Instead, reviewers will be instructed to consider the spirit of the writing and the overall desire of the intended audience to know about the content being presented.

For example, submissions with weak methodology (perhaps only evaluating a design with three or four convenient users, or not evaluating a design at all) can be accepted if it still articulates an interesting conclusion or shows a compelling creation and the submission is of interest to the various communities. Some examples of topics that might be inappropriate for the HCI Archive, but would be of immediate interest to Contemporary Trends, include:

  • The role of intuition in the development of design solutions for complex problems
  • An analysis of form, aesthetics and emotion in the creation of a particular company's brand identity and product development
  • A chronicle of the design of a flawed information architecture structure, and the resulting chaos that ensued as the project went live
  • A description of the political environment in which design is conducted in a particular company

Please note that Extended Abstract submissions do not need to be anonymized. Author names and affiliations can be stated on the submitted document(s).

The Review Form
The following is a description of the form reviewers will use to guide and submit their review of your submission. We suggest that familiarity with the questions on the review form will help you to decide what to include or emphasize in your paper.

The questions on the review form ask the reviewer for the following:

  1. A rating of the reviewer's own expertise in the topic area of the submission, from 4 (expert) to 1 (no knowledge); this helps members of the various committees to resolve conflicting views on submissions.
  2. Statement of the timeliness of the contribution to HCI; this provides the committee with a basis for assessing the significance of the contribution, and for judging whether all the reviewers agree on what the contribution is.
  3. A review of the submission in terms of the criteria laid out in the particular submission category's Call.
  4. Any aspects of the submission's written presentation that need improvement.
  5. A rating of the submission's acceptability, from 5 (high) down to 1 (low). Submissions whose contribution is judged significant are rated 4 or 5, depending on whether or not they contain any non-serious flaws.

Reviewers can also add further comments that they want you or the committee to see. The main concerns for you to keep in mind are those numbered 2, 3, and 4: you should offer the reviewers a strong, well-presented contribution to HCI that meets the criteria in the Call. If you do this, your contribution should get a high rating.

Contribution and Benefit Statement
Along with your submission you must present a 30-word statement of contribution and benefit. This statement is not part of your paper, but it is important in assisting the review committee as they examine your submission. Your submission's reviewers will be asked to focus on the timeliness of the contribution to HCI, the benefit others can gain from its results, and its originality. We suggest it may be useful to draft this statement before you begin writing your paper, to help keep the contribution and benefit in sharp focus. Examples showing how to write such statements will be found in Note at the end of this guide.

Contribution Statement CHI asks for just one such contribution. You may be tempted to offer more than one; for example, a new design and a new method by which you evaluated it. Due to the limited number of pages and space, you are advised to resist this temptation, and focus on presenting one strong contribution very well. If you offer several contributions of different types, reviewers may be confused as to which is the contributions primary focus. Furthermore, you will probably find it difficult to do justice to more than one contribution in such a limited quantity of pages. Should you find you have several strong contributions to offer - and you have time to spare - consider submitting them as separate contributions.

Benefit Statement
If you are in a position to make a contribution to HCI, there will be people who stand to benefit from it. For example, if you are presenting an innovative interaction technique for small screens, it will be of potential use to people involved in developing handheld computers. A case study describing how you developed a new interactive product will probably catch the eye of HCI educators looking for teaching materials. The benefit to be gained from your contribution will be one consideration that reviewers take into account.

As you write or develop your contribution, therefore, keep in mind the kinds of people you think might benefit from reading it. Think also about how this might happen - what kinds of problems might readers be facing to which your paper could provide the solution. Try to make sure that the paper explains the contribution in sufficient detail for the full benefit to be extracted.

Describing the Work Clearly and Concisely
You might be surprised at the historically large number of reviewer complaints about written presentation. Describing your work involves not only good prose, but also providing a good structure that helps the reader follow the explanation. The text should be supported with figures, tables and even videos where appropriate; these should be clear and easy to understand. For example, strong imagery is of primarily importance to the Design Community; consider how you can create a sense of narrative through the use of multiple images in a storyboard fashion. Submissions may use color figures, but they should be usable when printed in black and white in the paper proceedings.

Although all presentations at CHI are made in English, CHI is a conference with an international audience - and an international panel of reviewers. Submissions must be written in a language that effectively communicates across national and cultural boundaries. When authors are not native speakers of English, reviewers try to assess the quality of the work independent of language issues, but good English always helps. If you are not a native English speaker but have access to those who are, it is a good idea to ask them to proof-read your paper before you submit it. Even if your first language is English, keep in mind that non-native English speakers will be reading and reviewing the paper. Avoid long, complex sentences as well as regional colloquialisms, jokes, or puns that could be difficult for someone outside your culture to understand.

In summary, try to write clearly and concisely, avoid jargon, organize the paper to flow logically and smoothly, provide the right level of detail, and make good use of figures to support the text.

Final Comments
Contemporary Trends are reviewed on an 'as-is' basis, and cannot be accepted conditionally upon making changes. This is unavoidable given the tight schedule of the reviewing process: there is no time for a second review after the author has made changes, so reviewers must make a decision whether the submission in its current form is acceptable for CHI.

Finally, when writing your paper you should resist the temptation to describe future work, or work expected to be completed before the final submission or conference. Although these planned activities are often interesting, you cannot rely on them to get your paper accepted. On the contrary, they may be seen by reviewers as evidence that the submission is premature, and you may be advised to resubmit when more of the work has been completed.

Examples of Contribution and Benefit Statements
A contribution/benefit statement describes the contribution made by the contributions to HCI and the benefit that readers can gain from it. These are stated in two sentences, the first sentence making clear what type of contribution (technique, system, guideline, etc.) is offered. See the following examples:

  • Case study describing development of a physical environment that allows young children to program stories. Can assist designers in understanding how to involve users, especially in formative design stages.
  • Describes a sound-enhanced system based on Instant Messaging, supporting presence awareness and opportunistic interactions among mobile, distributed groups. Can help mobile people stay connected in a lightweight, enjoyable way.
  • Describes an adaptive technique for improving focus-targeting in distortion-based visualizations that flattens the view based on pointer speed. The technique can significantly reduce targeting times and targeting error.
  • Describes an implementation of CPM-GOMS in the Apex modeling platform that automates many steps in model development. Requires less modeling knowledge and saves interface designers time when conducting CPM-GOMS analyses.
  • Extends the Cognitive Walkthrough method to group situations by treating individual and collaborative tasks separately. Presents practitioners with a clear method for evaluating groupware usability.
  • Presents guidelines for designers of learner-centered tools based on a case study of a scaffolded software environment. Can assist in developing effective scaffolded tools.

Please follow the style of these examples in composing your statement, and please try to keep it to 30 words or less.

Written by David Gilmore, Jon Kolko, Bill Lucas, and Helena Mentis for CHI 2007.