Milestone 6 Research Proposal

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This is one of the two options for Milestone 6, which is geared towards teams which are more interested in the research side of things.

In this milestone, your team will propose a new crowdsourcing platform by synthesizing some foundational ideas that have been proposed over the brainstorming and prototyping stages. You will propose it by writing an introduction to a mock research paper that summarizes the main contributions of a proposed platform, and how/why you expect that it improves on the current state-of-the-art.

Determine the foundational ideas in your proposed platform

First, you should find a set of ideas from the milestones that you believe will work well together in combination as a platform. Try to focus on big ideas you believe are truly revolutionary and essential underpinning of your platform ("foundational ideas"), as opposed to minor features that are nice to have but are not particularly novel or necessary.

You can draw the set of foundational ideas for your platform by synthesizing ideas and prototypes that have been proposed in Milestones 3, 4, and 5:

One way to determine what the foundational ideas of your proposed platform are, are by thinking about how you would pitch your platform. If you had to describe why your platform is better than any of the countless existing crowd marketplaces in a sentence or two, what would you say? These are your foundational ideas. If your don't think you can explain the novelty and advantages of your system in just a sentence or two, you may want to revisit the set of ideas you have picked - perhaps you are proposing a bag of minor features, with no truly novel, foundational ideas.

Format of your research proposal

You will propose your platform in the form of an introduction to a mock research paper. Essentially, imagine you have built your system, incorporating in all the ideas that you wanted to have in it, have run your user studies and evaluations, and everything has gone as planned. How do you convince other researchers that you have built a platform that is novel and that it is more effective at addressing problems than any existing ideas that have been attempted in the past?

An introduction of a research paper summarizes the main contributions of the research. It is generally roughly 1 page (roughly 1000 words), and consists of the following components:


A concise summary of the background and your research contributions (described below). Usually around 150 words or less.

Background / Motivation

What are the core problems that your system will solve? Why are these problems important?

Related Work

What are the existing attempts to solve this problem that have been attempted in prior research papers and real-world systems? Why are their solutions unsatisfactory?

  • You may want to search around Google Scholar to find existing work that is related to the ideas your system proposes.

Research Contributions

What are the foundational ideas that underly your system? Why/how are they novel and better than anything that has been attempted in the past?


Once the platform you propose has been implemented, how will you determine whether your system actually solves the problem you wanted to solve? What are the results you hope you can realistically achieve? Why do these results show that you have solved the problem?

Read introductions of some existing papers

To see concrete examples of how HCI research papers that propose new platforms are structured, you should read the introductions of these papers. You will likely be familiar with the first two papers (mClerk and MobileWorks), as they were part of the Milestone 1 readings.


Gupta A, Thies W, Cutrell E, et al. mClerk: enabling mobile crowdsourcing in developing regions. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2012: 1843-1852.


Narula P, Gutheim P, Rolnitzky D, et al. MobileWorks: A Mobile Crowdsourcing Platform for Workers at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Human Computation, 2011, 11: 11.

Twitch Crowdsourcing

Vaish R, Wyngarden K, Chen J, et al. Twitch crowdsourcing: crowd contributions in short bursts of time. Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM, 2014: 3645-3654.


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