Call: HCI issue – Guiding the Conversation: New Theory and Design Perspectives for Conversational User Interfaces

Call for Papers

Guiding the Conversation: New Theory and Design Perspectives for Conversational User Interfaces
Special Issue of Human Computer Interaction Journal

Proposals due: 2nd June 2021

Conversational speech and text-based interfaces are growing in popularity, through the increased uptake of speech systems like Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. We have also seen the proliferation of chatbot interfaces in service contexts. This special issue aims to start building further critical mass around research on user-centric issues in CUI interaction, specifically investigating how theory, methods and empirical research can inform the development, understanding and design of CUIs.  It aims to serve as a catalyst for new data-driven insights, interaction paradigms, and theoretical viewpoints, for HCI researchers interested in this growing area of study. For this special issue, conversational interfaces are broadly defined, including task-based as well as social, conversational and companion-based interactions through text, speech and multimodal interaction.


We encourage submissions that include, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Design paradigms, metaphors & use cases:
    How effective are existing UX design practices and methods? Do we need fundamentally different design paradigms for CUIs? What might these look like? Should CUIs be designed to emulate human interactions or should new conversational metaphors be sought? How effective is using human conversational data to design CUIs? How can CUIs be used to support or drive existing or novel interaction use cases (e.g., multimodal interaction), tasks (e.g., multitasking) or domains (automotive, healthcare, learning, behavior change)? How effective are CUIs in these new interaction paradigms?
  • Evaluation techniques and metrics:
    What are the specific challenges in evaluating conversational interfaces and how might these be addressed? What tools and practices are needed to effectively evaluate CUIs both in the lab and the wild, for short- and long-term interactions? What concepts are critical to the evaluation of CUI user experience?
  • Theories of interaction:
    Do we need new theories to model and understand CUI based interactions? To what extent can these be based on existing human interaction concepts and theories?
  • Encouraging prototyping & innovation:
    What are the current challenges to building prototype systems to encourage HCI based CUI research? What functionality and tools are required to encourage large scale prototyping by HCI researchers? How could these be useful to increase innovation in CUI interactions?
  • Ethics, privacy & trust:
    What are the privacy, consent, data storage and data use challenges for always on CUI systems and how does this interplay with user task (e.g. purchasing, information gathering, search) and context of use (e.g. home, public spaces, workplace)? What role and influence should CUIs play in safety-critical and ethical decision processes? What are the critical paradigms needing to be considered to ensure ethical and trustworthy CUIs? How should CUIs be designed to be sensitive to these issues?

We encourage papers that present original and rigorous research in these areas, especially cross disciplinary investigations that include speech and language-based disciplines.


We ask interested authors to submit an initial proposal to the special issue. Initial proposals should be about 1000 words and provide a clear indication of what the paper is about. Note that you must use the template provided (available here or here). Proposals should be submitted by email to the HCI Editorial site. Proposals will be evaluated for relevance to the special issue theme, and guidance will be given. Accepted proposal will then be invited to submit a full paper submission.  Full paper submissions should then be submitted to the HCI Editorial site ( Follow the guidelines and instructions for submissions on the site. There is a place on the submission site to note that your submission is for the special issue.

Note that Special Issue paper submissions will be peer reviewed to the usual standards of the HCI journal.

For questions and queries about the special issue, please email


Proposals due: 2nd June 2021
Response to authors: 1st July 2021
Full papers due: 1st October 2021
Reviews to authors: 1st December 2021
Revised papers due: 1st February 2022
Reviews to authors: 16th April 2022
Final papers due: 16th May 2022


Benjamin R Cowan (University College Dublin)
Leigh Clark (Swansea University)
Heloisa Candello (IBM Research, Brazil)
Janice Tsai (Mozilla Research)

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