• Word map of research issues in care homes

CHI 2016

Ethical Encounters in Human Computer Interactions

CHI (pronounced kai) is a world leading conference for Human-Computer Interaction:  .  CHI is a place for people to see, discuss and learn about the future of how people interact with technology. It attracts researchers, designers and scientists from academy and industry from around the world. On May 7th, 2016 Marianne Dee presented a paper on BESiDE’s research in care homes in the Ethical Encounters workshop at the CHI conference in San Jose, California. 

The purpose of the workshop was to address the fact that Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) research is moving into increasingly sensitive and challenging settings.  New technologies are now being designed and evaluated with vulnerable or marginalized participants in contexts that can be emotionally challenging for researchers, participants, and others involved in the research. Research conducted in these sensitive and emerging areas can produce complex ethical dilemmas. The 2016 workshop brought together researchers working in sensitive settings to share experiences and consider ways in which the CHI community can collectively highlight, educate, prepare, and support new researchers to progress and continue conducting research in sensitive settings.

The variety and range of research was broad, with reports from researchers collecting voices from the Rwanda Tribunals and Syrian refugee camps in rural Lebanon to issues on the use of public data such as tweets and the mining of information from social computing where researchers bypass clinical interviews to obtain highly sensitive data around highly personal topics such as depression, violence, abuse and sexual harassment.

Despite the disparate nature of everyone’s research, the key issues emerging were remarkably common for all researchers taking part in the workshop. Issues of consent and participation were universal to everyone. Managing boundaries without disrupting people’s lives and dealing with the unpredictable and unplanned nature of sensitive or volatile situations was equally challenging. The blurring of boundaries between relationships and the research role was another common theme. Gaining the trust of vulnerable participants creates a supportive space for social interaction and relaxed communication. However, as relationships develop, participant’s expectations can change and it is difficult to walk a fine line between empathy and research objectivity whilst retaining participant's trust and full understanding.  People also reported feeling conflict when they might want to intervene in a difficult situation where the boundaries of the research contract and civil liberties might be at odds. At the heart of this debate, however, was the explicit understanding of the importance of continuing to pursue and expand such work while developing guidance and strategies for maintaining researchers' emotional wellbeing.

The workshop participants came together to identify the potential ways in which we might develop a resource to help future researchers. A handbook of practical strategies to inform good practice for future HCI research has been proposed. Other ideas included the sharing of tried and tested consent forms for different vulnerable populations, guidelines on exit strategies, the potential of online mentors / support groups and the possible creation of an online toolkit of resources for the research community.


Event Details
  • A Workshop
Location Details
San Jose Convention Center United States

150 W San Carlos St
San Jose, California
United States

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