PL/HCI Graduate Seminar
Making communicating with computers more accessible: easier, faster, and safer
CS 252r & CS 279r
MW 12-1:15 PM Pierce 209
Harvard, Cambridge, MA
Fall 2019

Group Project

Important Dates

  • Dec 2 & 4: In class presentations and playable demos
  • Dec 13: Written report emailed to Elena & Nada


  • at least 2 people, at most 5 people
  • at least 1 HCI person, 1 PL person
  • written communication requirement:
    • generate a report that describes the final project, structured like a research paper
    • target a venue, HCI or PL, as an exercise
  • optional, but encouraged: user study? IRB approval?
  • build a prototype? think what’s the minimal amount of implementation or design to support your design argument?
  • presentations for all the projects during class or reading period



  1. A design argument

    • Need thesis and evidence collected (20%)
    • Approach thesis and evidence collected (20%)
  2. A design fiction (10%)

    • Describe how a particular user runs into the obstacle and then gets around the obstacle using your designed object/language
  3. Describe how you collected the evidence (10%)
  4. Insights (including technical) and lessons learned (20%)
  5. How would you push this project further for a research publication? (10%)

In class

  1. Playable prototype: could be paper (wizard of Oz), interactive prototyping tool, or partially implemented in code

How to write a research paper

See Simon Peyton-Jones’ advice.

  • Main idea (should be useful and re-usable).
  • List of contributions (should be refutable).
  • Rest of paper is evidence for contributions.
  • Tell a story: interesting & unsolved problem, idea, idea works, related work.
  • Claims and evidence.

Final project types

Idea and validation:

  • Study and findings.
  • Implementation and evaluation.
  • Design and study.

Reminder on evidence

Ways to collect evidence include but are not limited to:

  • Heuristic evaluation
  • Play studies with users
  • Wizard of Oz studies with users
  • Contextual inquiry with intended users
  • Surveys
  • Analysis
  • Comparison
  • Theorems
  • Measurements
  • Case studies