the politics of titling

February 27, 2018

We have a paper at alt.CHI 2018 discussing when authors put country information in the titles of their CHI papers. We found this to be an important issue, because title is perhaps the most important place to inform the widest audience of what this paper is about. Adding country information to the title, while technically making the title more accurate in reflecting the methodological details, oftentimes serves the purpose of admitting that the findings and implications do not go beyond the geographic or cultural bounds. Interestingly, in the paper we found that among all the papers that put country information in titles, significantly more studies are about non-Western contexts. What is more worrying is that a few studies of Western contexts tell little about what country the studies were conducted, so much so that we need to cross compare details in the papers’ methods sections, acknowledgements sections, and even external tools such as LinkedIn and Google, to figure out the countries! There are more distinctions that we found between studies of Western and non-Western settings in terms of detailing the study context. But the core message is that we really need to think about the standard for generalizability in generating HCI knowledge.

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