Special Issue of the Intl J of Human-Computer Studies: Perspectives on participatory HCI research: Beginnings, middles and endings (July 2013)

Special Issue Theme: Perspectives on participatory HCI research: Beginnings, middles and endings
Website: http://di.ncl.ac.uk/participation/special-issue/
Deadline for submissions: 31 July 2013

Participation is a research area of sustained interest to the HCI community. Traditionally, the term has been used to suggest a democratized approach to the design of technology that calls for end-user involvement in the design process. This may vary from researchers inviting specific users or stakeholders to participate in design workshops, through to long term engagements with communities to define research questions and study deployments of new technologies. As HCI is an interdisciplinary field, however, there are multiple understandings of what participation in research might mean, from subjects and disciplines such as social science, participatory and performance arts, international development, and action research. Beyond these influences, there is also increased pressure from funding bodies and public institutions to involve a wider spectrum of the public in academic research. The convergence of these factors has drawn attention to the potential benefits and challenges, both theoretical and practical of involving users and the public in HCI research.

While user, citizen or stakeholder participation in design processes can offer great insight into the applicability of technological interventions in certain contexts, the HCI community would benefit from critically reflecting on how participation is planned, managed, and sustained. The mundane yet still significant details of how participatory HCI research is performed are rarely documented and discussed by the community. The coming together of multiple perspectives from different disciplines ­ some of which have existing frameworks, some debate the very notion of participation ­ provides an opportunity for HCI researchers to reflect critically on how people are involved in design processes. Specifically, we call attention to the following three phases of performing participatory HCI research:

How we begin:
How do researchers establish relationships with communities, participants, or users and stakeholders prior to commencing participatory research? Who here determines the research context and the setting it takes place in, or what research questions are formed? Furthermore, what agendas, skills and assumptions do researchers bring to a participatory project? Why are certain participants selected or invited to take part over others?

How we reflex and reflect:
How do researchers reflect upon and manage the complicated processes of participation and engagement while working with groups or communities? How are researchers and participants given space to document and reflect upon the activities they perform and how does this inform the research or design process throughout? How do we understand our practice when busy doing it and can we develop strategies to elicit generative reflections on practice as it is enacted? Furthermore, is it possible to document participatory work along the way without skewing the process itself?

How we end:
How do researchers determine whether deployments or interventions should be sustained beyond the formal completion of research, and what are the practical challenges of leaving a legacy of a participatory project? Is sustainability or legacy always positive outcome of participatory research, and are there ways of empirically understanding transformations within a context beyond the uptake or success of a specific technology or intervention?


This special issue aims to present a set of high quality, thought provoking, original research articles that address one or more of these stages through topics including, but not limited to:

— Empirical studies collaborating with organizations and communities in the design or evaluation of new technologies.
— Studies of participatory HCI that target specific populations or communities, such as older people, young people, activist groups, charities, rural communities, among others.
— Theoretical and conceptual frameworks that unpack the questions and related problems of participation as a process.
— Critical reflections on existing and historical examples of participation in HCI.
— Strategies for documenting and eliciting reflection from both researchers and participants engaged in research.
— Considerations of the ethical, moral and political implications of designing technologies with communities of users and stakeholders.
— Interdisciplinary perspectives on participatory HCI research.
— Case studies discussing experiences of beginning, reflecting on or sustaining participatory HCI research.

It is anticipated that submissions will tackle at least one stage of participatory research/design processes in use, as described above, and that accepted papers will comprise examples from each phase. Papers addressing theoretical issues will only be considered where the contribution is exceptional.

Paper submission

Authors are requested to contact the guest editors (email: participation.di@gmail.com) prior to making a submission by July 31st 2013 to inform them of their plans to submit to the special issue. All submissions should be made to the IJHCS submission system at http://ees.elsevier.com/ijhcs selecting “SI: participatory HCI” as the Article Type. Full manuscripts should be submitted according to the IJHCS Guide for authors and will be blind refereed.

Articles must be based on original research, although extended versions of published conference papers may be acceptable if they contain at least 50% new material. All manuscripts should be submitted online. The IJHCS Guide for authors and online submission is available at http://ees.elsevier.com/ijhcs.

Key dates

Email guest editors prior to submission: 31st July 2013
Paper due date: 31st August 2013
Review completion date: 15th November 2013 (Notification of 1st review)
Re-Submission by: 17th January 2014
Final Acceptance: 21st February 2014 (Notification of 2nd review)
Final Version due: 7th April 2014

Guest Editors

John Vines, Newcastle University (United Kingdom)
Rachel Clarke, Newcastle University (United Kingdom)
Ann Light, Northumbria University (United Kingdom)
Peter Wright, Newcastle University (United Kingdom)


About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is http://deseng.ryerson.ca/~fil.

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