T19: Empirical Research Methods for Human-Computer Interaction

Tuesday, 21 July 2020, 08:30 – 12:30
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Scott MacKenzie (short bio)

York University, Toronto, Canada



This half-day course delivers an A-to-Z presentation on conducting empirical research in human-computer interaction (HCI), with an emphasis on designing and conducting experiments (aka user studies), analyzing data, presenting results, and writing a research paper.


Content and benefits:

The course will include the following topics:

  • What is empirical research and what is the scientific method?
  • Discovering and refining topics suitable for research in HCI
  • Formulating “testable” research questions
  • How to design an experiment (ask user study) to answer research questions
  • Parts of an experiment (independent variables, dependent variables, counterbalancing, etc.)
  • Group participation in a real experiment
  • Experiment results and discussion (Note: Presenting the results of an experiment in which attendees have just participated affords a strong opportunity to revisit and expand on the elements of empirical research.)
  • Experiment design issues (choosing within-subjects vs. between-subjects factors, internal validity, external validity, counterbalancing test conditions, etc.)
  • Data analyses (main effects and interaction effects, requirements to establish cause and effect relationships, etc.)
  • How to organize and write a successful research paper (including suggestions for style and approach, as per typical conference submissions)


Target Audience:

This course is intended for HCI conference attendees who are interested in learning about, or refining their skill in, empirical research methods in interactive systems. The course will be of particular interest to researchers (including students) who are striving to develop and evaluate new interfaces or interaction techniques, with the goal of publishing the results in a research journal or conference proceedings.

Bio Sketch of Presenter:

Scott MacKenzie's research is in human-computer interaction with an emphasis on human performance measurement and modeling, experimental methods and evaluation, interaction devices and techniques, text entry, touch-based input, language modeling, accessible computing, gaming, and mobile computing. He has more than 180 peer-reviewed publications in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (including more than 40 from the ACM's annual SIGCHI conference) and has given numerous invited talks over the past 25 years. In 2015, he was elected into the ACM SIGCHI Academy. That same year he was the recipient of the Canadian Human-Computer Communication Society's (CHCCS) Achievement Award. Since 1999, he has been Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at York University, Toronto, Canada.