Course Research Projects

Throughout this course, students will work in small groups to conduct a research project on human-computer interaction. Students have the option to choose from a list of project topics, mainly on human-centered security. Students are allowed to select any other HCI topic to work on. However, they should discuss their proposals with the instructor at their earliest convenience, and by September 22 at the latest. Although not necessary, the project could entail designing a system prototype (e.g., interface, app, plugin), which should then be evaluated through user studies as part of the project. Groups may decide not to design a system and instead conduct empirical research by collecting user data and then conducting appropriate analysis. If the proposed project includes a system design, the user study component of the project will be smaller compared to the projects with no system design. Regardless, all projects should have a user study component, either as its main contribution or a side contribution.

Groups are expected to write a research paper on the project and present it to the class. Prior to the final presentations, groups will give interim presentations, where they will have the opportunity to present their work and get feedback. Students are expected to incorporate the feedback in their final presentation and report. All group members should present in both the interim and final presentations. Students are encouraged to submit their research as a full paper or a poster to human-computer interaction (e.g., ACM CHI, CSCW), security, and privacy (e.g., IEEE S&P, USENIX), or a usable security (e.g., SOUPS) venue. Submitting a full paper to these venues requires additional work beyond the semester. The instructor will mentor students who are interested in continuing with their research projects and submitting them to the appropriate venues. 

Project Timeline and Grading

Below is the tentative timeline for various stages of the project. The percentage of project grade for each item is provided in parentheses, if applicable:

  • Setting up a meeting with the instructor to discuss any project proposal that is not included in the recommended list no later than September 11.
  • Returning the project preferences form by September 15. Students will then be assigned to a project team by September 18. (5%)
  • Submitting a brief project proposal by October 2. (5%)
  • Slides (and presentation) for a 4 to 6-minute in-class presentation on the project pitch by October 2. (5%)
  • Submitting Institutional Review Board (IRB) application by October 9. (Optional: Extra 5 points)
  • Submitting a short interim progress report by November 8 or November 13, depending on the assigned date of presentation. (5%)
  • Slides (and presentation) for a 10-minute in-class presentation on the project interim progress by November 8 or November 13, depending on the assigned date of presentation. (20%)
  • Slides (and presentation) for a 10-minute final project presentation by December 4 or December 6, depending on the assigned date of presentation. (20%)
  • Submitting the final project paper by December 11. (40%)

Project Recommendations

Below are a few recommendations on the topic or theme of the research projects. If a theme looks exciting, students should work on defining a concrete research goal/question that they would like to explore in this course:

  • Privacy and security concerns/practices in smart homes.
  • Privacy and security attitudes/practices of household members toward smart home devices.
  • Usability of phishing warnings and users' nudging. 
  • Privacy and security concerns and practices in the gaming context.
  • Dark/manipulative patterns in voice and video interfaces.
  • Informing consumers' security and privacy purchase decision making (e.g., apps, smart devices).
  • People's understanding of smart device security and data practices. 
  • Concerns toward smart home devices in remote work settings. 
  • Concerns toward smart devices in academic settings.
  • Harms and privacy risks of social robots for at-risk populations (e.g., senior adults, minors).
  • Security and privacy concerns, attitudes, and expectations toward extended reality.
  • Shared security and privacy practices and misconceptions on social media during the time of crisis (e.g., war in Ukraine, demonstrations in Iran).
  • Security and privacy concerns and attitudes toward popular categories of apps, including online dating apps, health apps, and educational apps.