CHI 2019 paper “Ways of Knowing When Research Subjects Care”

Dorothy Howard and I co-authored a paper on the politics of qualitative research as a practice of extracting knowledge or practicing solidarity. The paper won an honorable mention at CHI 2019.

Title: Ways of Knowing When Research Subjects Care (escholarship open access)

Abstract: This paper investigates a hidden dimension of research with real world stakes: research subjects who care — sometimes deeply — about the topic of the research in which they participate. They manifest this care, we show, by managing how they are represented in the research process, by exercising politics in shaping knowledge production, and sometimes in experiencing trauma in the process. We draw first-hand reflections on participation in diversity research on Wikipedia, transforming participants from objects of study to active negotiators of research process. We depict how care, vulnerability, harm, and emotions shape ethnographic and qualitative data. We argue that, especially in reflexive cultures, research subjects are active agents with agendas, accountabilities, and political projects of their own. We propose ethics of care and collaboration to open up new possibilities for knowledge production and socio-technical intervention in HCI.