Reading Commentaries

Most lectures have two associated readings that are closely related to the topic of that session, either in terms of the topic or the research methods. For each session of the class (we have two sessions per week), you are expected to read and submit a thoughtful commentary on the two assigned readings. In each session of the class where we have reading assignments, one or two of your classmates will lead a discussion (~30 minutes) on the two readings (~15 minutes each). If you are assigned as a discussion lead of a reading, you are not expected to submit your commentaries for that reading. However, you are expected to submit your commentaries for the reading you are not leading its discussion in that session. For other students, the deadline for submitting the commentaries of each class is at 7 p.m. the day before that session.

The complete list of readings is available on the course schedule. If, as a discussion lead, you prefer to present a different article for your selected topic, you need to notify the instructor at least one week before the date of the session you are leading. The lead-selected articles should present peer-reviewed user-centered research on human-centered security. The article should be a full-length paper from any of the flagship security, privacy, or HCI conferences, including USENIX Security, IEEE S&P, PETS, CHI, HRI, and CSCW.

Expected Content of Commentaries

Please include the following items when preparing the commentaries for each assigned reading:

  • Short summary (2-4 sentences) of the reading.
  • Two discussion prompts. Please see below for more information on what constitutes a good discussion prompt/question.

Discussion Prompts

An important part of your reading commentaries is the discussion prompts. You are asked to write two discussion prompts per reading (four in total for each class) in your commentaries. These prompts can take a question or statement form. Regardless of how you format these prompts, they should demonstrate a deep understanding and critical thinking of the paper. Although there is no preferred type of prompt, below are a few questions that might inspire you when designing your prompts:

  • What system design/user research methods are used in this research, are they effective (why/why not), and how can they be improved?
  • Who could this research benefit or harm (e.g., consumers, policymakers) and why? What needs to be done to mitigate the potential harms of this research and/or strengthen its benefits?
  • What are the risks of this research for study participants? Are there any unaddressed ethical concerns in this work?
  • What lessons can we learn from this research, and what future directions can we think of that are inspired by this research?
  • How has this work changed your understanding and view of security/privacy/human-computer interaction/usability?

Grading of Commentaries

For each class, you will receive two grades, one for each reading commentary. The assigned grade for your submitted reading commentary will be one of the following:

  • Complete Plus: The commentary is detailed and the included prompts demonstrate a deep understanding of the intellectual content of the reading. Each Complete Plus is an extra 0.25 points.
  • Complete: The commentary is sufficiently detailed and the included prompts demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the intellectual content of the reading.
  • Incomplete: The commentary either lacks the expected components or provides incorrect, incomplete, or shallow details about the reading. Each Incomplete is minus 0.25 points.

Your two lowest reading grades will be dropped. There is no deadline extension policy for reading assignments, and they are expected to be submitted by 7 p.m. the day before the class. However, life is full of surprises, which requires flexibility. So if, for any reason, you find it challenging to submit your assignments in time, please reach out to the instructor to discuss possible accommodations. Your health and happiness are my most important goals, so if you are in distress about this class (or anything else) and you would like to talk about it, the instructor is always available to chat. Just let me know!