CRA Update: Keeping you in the Know
Each year, the CRA Board launches a number of working groups that focus on timely topics of interest to the computing research community. Sometimes a working group is launched for just a short time (a year or less), while other times a working group meets regularly for much longer. In this month’s CRA Update, we provide the current status (written by the chair(s)) of all six of CRA’s current working groups. All CRA committees and working groups (and their membership) are available here: https://cra.org/committees/.
CRA’s Career Engagement Working Group has been working to determine how CRA can better engage different members of the computing research community. The goal of the working group is to develop a concrete set of new steps that CRA could undertake, which would help ensure all members of the computing research community are better served by CRA’s programs and activities.
The committee consists of CRA Board members Lori Pollock (U Delaware), Diana Franklin (U Chicago) and Gillian Hayes (UC Irvine); volunteers Kirk Cameron (VA Tech), Jose Moreira (IBM), Meng Yu (Roosevelt U), ChengXiang Zhai (U Illinois), and is chaired by Tracy Camp (CRA) and Rachel Pottinger (U British Columbia).
The working group has systematically worked through CRA’s current activities to consider where other communities could be engaged. The working group then worked through various constituent groups, from high school students to senior researchers to the general public, in order to consider how different group members could be engaged.
A full report will be made to the CRA Board this July, but two example ideas include:
- High school students are getting more interested in research early; how can we help them?
- An advisory board of more junior people to inform the CRA Board what interests them.
If you have ideas that you would like to contribute, please share them on this form.
CRA’s Communications Working Group is focused this year on developing a communications plan that aligns with the overall CRA Strategic Plan. For this process, we formulated several question prompts for the CRA Board, facilitated discussions using the prompts at the CRA Board meeting in February, and then summarized the recommendations and comments. These discussions with the CRA Board helped the working group understand CRA communication needs, opportunities, and challenges. The working group includes CRA Board members Lori Pollock (U Delaware) and Gillian Hayes (UC Irvine) along with Peter Harsha and Shar Steed (now departed) from CRA.
The CRA Communications plan describes a number of activities designed to increase awareness of CRA’s initiatives and engagement from the computing community. It outlines steps needed to build a stronger communications structure, improve community engagement, and build a culture of communications at CRA. Before expanding communications, we first need to establish overarching communications goals and build the capacity needed to achieve and maintain them. The plan established three primary goals:
1) Develop a culture of valuing communications at CRA;
2) Institutionalize systemic, continuous, and targeted communications; and
3) Enhance value proposition to current and potential member organizations.
CRA’s Governance Working Group was charged with reconsidering the CRA Board and Bylaws that govern CRA and provide the framework for the organization’s volunteer leadership. The group has approached this work as a twin charge of (a) propose by-laws updates that better reflect modern practice and, more interestingly, (b) take a serious look at the role of the Board, the composition of the Board, election procedures, and more to see how CRA could have a leadership structure that better reflects and includes the full diversity of the North American computing-research community.
How big should the CRA Board be? Should election and appointment procedures change to bring a wider array of institutional and individual perspectives to the Board? Is there another structure where the agenda-setting role of the CRA Board should transition to a larger group? How has the leadership structure not responded to the significant growth of our community and mission? What data would inform our understanding of current shortcomings and what data would indicate a change was successful? These are the big questions we are wrestling with as we aim to make CRA better.
The Governance Working Group comprises Elizabeth Bradley (CU Boulder), Tracy Camp (CRA), Dan Grossman (Chair; UW), Raquel Hill (Spelman), Hridesh Rajan (Iowa State), Penny Rheingans (U Maine), and Chris Ramming (VMWare). It has been meeting every-other-week and aims to produce options for the CRA Board to consider in the coming months.
CRA’s Misconduct Issues Working Group is collaborating with CERP and CRA-WP to assess how respected and safe colleagues feel in our technical communities. The goal of the working group is to develop best practices and potential solutions to decrease sexual harassment, bullying, abuse of power imbalances, and other related issues.
The working group includes CRA Board members James Allan (U Massachusetts), Kim Hazelwood (Meta), Erik Russell (CRA), Amanda Stent (Colby College), and Alex Wolf (UC Santa Cruz); volunteer Sarita Schoenebeck (U Michigan); and is chaired by Katie Siek (Indiana U).
The committee worked with CRA’s CERP to develop pilot questions that assess how safe one feels; how confident they are to raise concerns and have them addressed; their feelings about intervening if they witness inappropriate behavior; and if they are treated with dignity when interacting with peers. The questions are currently being piloted with Grad Cohort for Women participants and then, based on feedback, will be iterated on before a larger deployment.
CRA’s Research Integrity Working Group was formed this year in response to ongoing concerns in the computing research community that the number of violations of research integrity has been increasing and the nature of the most common offenses is changing. The charge to the working group is to enumerate the current threats to research integrity in computing and to make recommendations on best practices to mitigate those threats as well as highlight any areas that require further investigation.
The working group has been meeting every other week for the last several months and has heard from a wide variety of stakeholders, including program chairs of major conferences, the providers of conference management systems, the computing professional societies, university research integrity officers, and funding agencies.
The working group will produce a report this summer. While the group has not yet decided on recommendations, some salient facts have emerged from the meetings so far:
- While traditional problems (such as plagiarism and self-plagiarism) are still present, reviewer collusion rings that seek to undermine the peer review process in CS conferences have become a much bigger issue in recent years.
- The scale of the largest CS conferences, which require tens of thousands of reviews, means that solutions must be at least partially automated – fully manual detection and enforcement isn’t realistic.
- Privacy laws are creating siloes where organizations cannot, in most cases, share information about who they have sanctioned for violations of research integrity.
The members of the working group are mostly current CRA Board members but also include representation from the ACM, IEEE and SIAM, the National Science Foundation, industry, and volunteers. If you have comments or suggestions for the working group, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRA’s Socially Responsible Computing Working Group was charged with exploring ways that CRA can support the computing community in efforts in this domain. The working group, chaired by Ellen Zegura (GATech) and Ran Libeskind-Hadas (Claremont-McKenna), decided to begin by exploring three areas: (1) ethics curricular, especially at the graduate level, (2) opportunities for computing conferences in advancing scholarship that has direct benefits to society, and (3) the role of computing in climate and sustainability. Notably, these three areas span major activities of the computing community, from research to education to community gatherings. Each of these subgroups is meeting regularly and will contribute to a report that will be submitted to the CRA Board in June 2023 summarizing their recommendations for next steps as well as resources and other organizations and groups that are natural partners for these efforts.
The ethics group comprises Anind Dey (UW), Rachel Bellamy (IBM), and Ellen Zegura (GATech). The computing conferences group comprises Kim Hazelwood (Meta), Amanda Stent (Colby College), Dan Lopresti (Lehigh), and Lorrie Cranor (CMU). The Computing, Climate, and Sustainability comprises Stephanie Forrest (ASU), Eve Schooler (Intel), Shashi Shekhar (U Minnesota), and Ran Libeskind-Hadas (Claremont-McKenna). Ann Schwartz Drobnis (CRA) is supporting these efforts as well.