Guidelines for Nominators and Endorsers for ACM SIGCHI Awards
December 2, 2022
Authors: Sunny Consolvo, Niklas Elmqvist, Philippe Palanque, Leysia Palen
The ACM SIGCHI awards, which are presented each year at the CHI conference, recognize a broad set of important contributions to the SIGCHI community. Awardees are selected each year by their respective subcommittees, which report to the SIGCHI Executive Committee.
Common among the awards is that candidates who are considered are SIGCHI members who are nominated by other members of the SIGCHI community (i.e., candidates do not self-nominate). Nominations for most of the awards include a brief summary of why the nominee is suited for the award as well as external endorsements. Because it can be challenging to know what should go into a nomination or endorsement, this document attempts to provide some guidelines for these documents.
The different SIGCHI awards are summarized here and the nomination process can be found here. Naturally, each individual award category has criteria or recommendations that are specific to that award. Below, we first list general guidelines that apply to all award categories and then discuss guidelines specific to each category.
Keep the following guidelines in mind for nominations to all categories of SIGCHI awards:
- Length: Summaries of why the nominee is suited for the award should be brief. They are typically no more than 1,000 words (i.e., approximately two pages). Summaries that exceed 1,000 words are likely to be disadvantageous to the candidate. Keep in mind that award subcommittees often have heavy reviewing loads.
- Self-contained: Do not assume that subcommittee members will review additional materials you may point to in your summary.
- Focus on the contribution: Award reviewers want to understand the candidate’s contribution to the entire field of HCI in all its scale and diversity. Do your best to contextualize the candidate’s work in the big picture of HCI research.
- Mind your audience: Each awards subcommittee is small and will therefore not have in-depth expertise across the entire field of HCI. Ensure that your summary explains the candidate’s work in sufficiently general terms that a competent HCI researcher can understand without being an expert in the candidate’s particular subfield.
- Not just numbers: In most cases, individuals have to have published at SIGCHI conferences to be eligible for SIGCHI awards, but there is no requirement and no ranking merely based on their number of publications. Therefore, arguments based solely on the number of publications a candidate has at CHI, for example, are less effective than more qualitative arguments. For guidance on how to formulate qualitative arguments for impact, see the DORA agreement.
- Never lose sight of the human: Our field features the world “human” in its title, so be sure to provide the human perspective on the candidate’s work in your summary. How has the candidate’s work helped real people with real problems?
- Evidence of impact: Any evidence you can provide on how the candidate’s work has influenced society, other researchers, or stakeholders will help the candidate. Again, going beyond mere numbers (such as citation counts) is strongly advised.
- Activity in SIGCHI: With a few exceptions (notably the Lifetime Practice award), most SIGCHI awards require that participants be active in SIGCHI. Furthermore, for the more senior awards, demonstrating a candidate’s engagement in SIGCHI over the years is likely to bolster their case.
- Differentiate: The SIGCHI awards are prestigious and quite competitive. Be clear about what makes your candidate particularly qualified for the award.
Lifetime Research Award
The Lifetime Research Award is presented to individuals for outstanding contributions to the study of HCI. This award recognizes the very best, most fundamental, and influential research contributions. It is awarded for a lifetime of innovation and leadership.
We recommend that nominations for this award clearly address the award criteria (listed here). It is often helpful to include a paragraph/section of your summary for each criterion, and clearly state which criterion the paragraph/section is addressing. When possible, we recommend including specific examples of how your candidate meets each criterion.
Lifetime Practice & Lifetime Service Awards
The Lifetime Practice Award is presented to individuals for outstanding contributions to the practice and understanding of HCI. This award recognizes the very best and most influential applications of HCI. It is awarded for a lifetime of innovation and leadership. The Lifetime Service Award is presented to individuals who have contributed to the growth and success of SIGCHI in a variety of capacities. This award is for extended service to the community at large over a number of years.
There is no strict requirement that nominees for these two awards be active in SIGCHI (though they must be current SIGCHI members). However, including the contributions they’ve made to SIGCHI are always helpful to a candidate’s case. There is also no requirement that they publish in SIGCHI conferences, or even have an academic publication record. That said, we offer the following advice for preparing nominations to the Lifetime Practice and Lifetime Service awards.
For the Lifetime Practice Award, please keep in mind the award criteria (listed here), and specifically address them in your nomination. It is often helpful to include a paragraph/section of your summary for each criterion, and clearly state which criterion the paragraph/section is addressing. We recommend including specific examples of how your candidate meets each criterion when possible.
For the Lifetime Service Award, beyond listing positions with start-time and end-time, demonstrating vision and excellence in the activity performed while holding the position is key.
Outstanding Dissertation Award
First awarded in 2018, the Outstanding Dissertation Award celebrates the excellence and diversity of Ph.D. dissertation work in HCI around the world. Here are some unique guidelines for preparing nominations for this award:
- Contextualize the contribution: The nominator and the referees are often better placed than students to explain the contribution in relation to the rest of the field.
- Why is this work novel and unique? Explaining how the work is different from existing well-known HCI research—especially any that has already been awarded in prior years—helps the award subcommittee better appreciate the uniqueness of the work.
- Evidence of impact: A Ph.D. dissertation is often among the first academic work that a person ever produces, and most of it is going to be hot off the press. This means that assessing its impact can be difficult. In this case, it may be useful to speculate how the work may have an impact in the future.
- Discuss the work, not the candidate: Limit your letter to discussing the dissertation. There is no need to sing the praises of the candidate or talk about their personal attributes. The award is given in recognition of outstanding Ph.D. dissertations, not outstanding Ph.D.s.
The SIGCHI Academy is an honorary group of individuals who have made substantial contributions to the field of HCI. These are leaders of the field, whose efforts have shaped the disciplines and/or industry, and led the research and/or innovation in HCI. The Lifetime Research and Lifetime Practice award subcommittees work together to determine who will be inducted into the SIGCHI Academy each year. We offer the following advice for preparing nominations to the SIGCHI Academy.
- Clearly address each criterion: Specifically address each award criterion (listed here). In your summary, it’s often helpful to include a paragraph/section for each criterion, and clearly state which criterion the paragraph/section is addressing.
- Specific examples: Include specific examples of how your candidate meets each criterion when possible.
- Go beyond the numbers: Echoing the general guidelines listed above, when addressing the candidate’s impact on the field and influence on the work of others, we strongly recommend that your summary clearly state their impact or influence beyond numbers like their citation count, H-index, or number of CHI publications. It is rare for numbers to set a candidate apart from the other candidates under consideration.
Updated December 2021 — Based on input and feedback from current and prior EC members, awards subcommittee chairs, and members of the SIGCHI community, we are instituting the following changes to the SIGCHI Awards for 2021-2022. We are committed to preserving the integrity and rigor of the awards review process, while ensuring openness, transparency, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Awards Subcommittees: Research and Practice
Because researchers’ contributions are best recognized by researchers and practitioners’ contributions are best recognized by practitioners, the Research and Practice Subcommittees are being split into two. Both Research and Practice Subcommittees will come together as follows to select SIGCHI Academy members:
- Each subcommittee will have access to the entire pool of SIGCHI Academy nominations.
- Each subcommittee will shortlist independently four nominations from the pool.
- The chair from each subcommittee plus two randomly selected members from their subcommittee will form an equal working group of three Research and three Practice representatives.
- The Research and Practice chairs will present the four SIGCHI Academy nominations each subcommittee shortlisted to the working group.
- The working group will decide on the final eight SIGCHI Academy awardees considering merit, diversity, and research and practice representation.
Open Calls: Process
We need a fair and sustainable process for ensuring that the awards committee is equipped to review awards nominations each year, with members contributing experience, commitment, expertise, availability, and representation.
- Every year in September, the AC Awards will check in to confirm with the Awards Committee that members are available to serve for the coming awards cycle.
- Once the number of vacant spots is determined, there will be an open call for these roles, following this policy guidance.
- The criteria will be spelled out in the open call.
- Chair selection will be done by a subcommittee of EC members, with the prior chair as an ex officio member. Member selection will be done by the same subcommittee, with the former chair replaced by the current/new chair.
- For this year’s call (in 2023), the subcommittee will include Susan Dray, Andrew Kun, Matt Jones and Helena Mentis.
- The open call subcommittee will agree on an interview protocol, interview candidates, discuss, and recommend names to the EC for approval.
- Candidates will be looked up in the ACM Violations DB post-interview before they are invited to serve.
- The call must remain open for a minimum of two weeks.
Open Calls: Criteria
To ensure rigor and integrity of the awards process, and to do so in a way that is open, transparent, equitable, and inclusive, we would like our subcommittees to consist of members who show evidence in their applications of the following:
- Recognition within HCI/SIGCHI: Applicants could be previous SIGCHI awardees or SIGCHI Academy members, ACM Distinguished Members/Fellows/Senior Members, recipients of similar awards from other recognized bodies including universities or technology companies, prior EC members, or present other equivalent experience that would be determined on a case-by-case basis by the current EC.
- Experience within the SIGCHI community: This is the number of years that an individual has been a member of SIGCHI. Certain awards subcommittees benefit more from years of experience than others. This is clarified, per subcommittee, below.
- Commitment to the values of the SIGCHI community: Applicants can provide examples of how they have demonstrated a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and/or their own experiences with these, taken broadly. These examples could draw from any aspect of their lives.
- Willingness to put in the required time for the role: Review of awards nominations requires time and care, and applicants are requested to seriously consider whether they will be available for reviewing applications, but also for contributing to strengthening the process with each year.
Criteria to Serve on the Lifetime Service Award Subcommittee
The Chair and Members of the Lifetime Service Award Committee should have had at least 15 years experience in SIGCHI, including several years of experience in service roles as well.
Criteria to Serve on the Social Impact Award Subcommittee
The Chair and Members of the Social Impact Award Subcommittee should have had 7-10 years of experience in SIGCHI, and should have demonstrated research/practice accomplishments related to HCI and social impact.
Criteria to Serve on the Research/Practice Awards Subcommittees
The Chair and Members of these two subcommittees should be accomplished researchers/practitioners.
Criteria to Serve on the Outstanding Dissertation Awards Subcommittee
The Chair and Members of the Outstanding Dissertation (English Language) Award Subcommittee should have at least 10 years experience in SIGCHI, and have mentored at least five PhD students.
Every effort will be made to ensure that our subcommittees as a whole are diverse along several dimensions, including gender, location, ethnicity, epistemic commitment, career stage, institution, etc. Aside from the research and practice subcommittees, there will ideally be a balance of members from research and practice backgrounds.
Types of Recognition: Awards and Beyond
- There is wide agreement that we need new awards, especially for honoring early- and mid-career researchers and practitioners, and HCI educators more generally. New awards will hopefully be introduced for the 2022-2023 cycle, following ACM timelines, after we have worked with all stakeholders to decide which ones these should be and how they should be defined.
- We will include information about ACM awards on our website, in case these may be suitable for the nominator/nominee.
- Other kinds of recognition will be supported in 2022. These can be submitted through the year. They may be for a variety of contributions to HCI and SIGCHI. Based on the nature of the contribution, the EC will ask for it to be reviewed by an awards committee, or do the review through an EC subcommittee.
For Nominators: Support and Transparency
The awards process appears opaque and hard to navigate for many members of our community. We need to lower barriers to nomination, especially since awards are few in number and becoming harder to get as the community grows.
- Through SIGCHI comms, we will provide evaluation criteria for awards, guidance on putting together successful nominations, links to ACM awards, and reminders to submit.
- Through Submittable, to nominators, we will provide information about outcomes once awards are announced, and feedback on nominations to the extent possible.
- Through virtual interactions with SIGCHI members, we will encourage/support them in navigating the awards process, for nominating others, or requesting nominations for themselves. We will encourage/support them in considering nominations for ACM awards. We will brainstorm about how to encourage and support SIGCHI members in nominating others, and requesting nominations for themselves.
Updated June 2021—The recent controversy over the 2020 Turing Award winner has highlighted how giving an award to someone who has systematically made a field hostile for others not only prevents the advancement of the field, but also perpetuates the harm itself.
Because of this, the SIGCHI EC has provided the following guidelines for all SIGCHI individual awards including but not limited to: SIGCHI Awards and SIGCHI sponsored conference awards (e.g. Impact Awards). These guidelines do not apply to paper awards that are based on the merit of the work and may unfairly punish the collaborators or student co-authors.
- Ensure more voices are heard during deliberation: The best way to do this is to ensure the awards committee represents the breadth of HCI community members. Diverse teams ensures that publicly known harms are brought to light during discussions.
- Due diligence phase: The process for considering candidate awardees should include a due diligence phase that answers the question: Has this person publicly engaged in activities which embody hateful, discriminatory action? This must include a formal search in the ACM’s violation database for those who have incurred ACM sanctions precluding them from being able to receive an award. This should also include an Internet search and reading through recent tweets or blog posts to exhaust publicly available information to the extent possible.
- Be comfortable with not honoring someone. No one is entitled to an award. “Dr. XYZ is renowned for their work but did far too much damage to the HCI community to get the award” is a perfectly sensible narrative.
- Nobody is perfect: The task is not to find awardees who have never made a mistake, nor ever angered anyone that they have power over, but instead identify those who have abused their power over others. However, racist, xenophobic, sexist, transphobic, homophibic, abelist, or other biased remarks and actions that are publicly stated or have been verified by the ACM (e.g. through it’s harrassment investigation process) can be used in decisions.
This is not about creating and implementing a perfect process, just one good enough to, for example, not give an award to someone who has perpetuated harm against those in our community. These guidelines are in place until the ACM (SIGCHI’s parent organization) instills policies that override it.
Thank you to the insightful tweet of Emily M. Bender who provided actionable recommendations. One of the hardest things to do is implement action. So providing real, tangible guidance while taking into account the many real constraints one must work within is always appreciated. And thank you to Nazanin Andalibi for supporting the SIGCHI EC in crafting these guidelines.