17 Periodicals for Usability Research

Jeff Sauro, PhD

If you’ve ever wondered whether there’s research to help guide a design or inform product development, then you’ll likely want to look to the published literature.

Despite the vast power of the internet and search engines, it’s still surprisingly difficult to know where to look to find relevant, peer-reviewed research.

A simple Google search will generate many blogs, some books’ contents, and perhaps some articles posted by authors, but not most of the peer-reviewed research that’s out there.

For reading the latest research in usability and human-computer interaction, here are several journals and periodicals that generate quality findings. For a few, I’ve also indicated some of the more famous papers they’ve published.

  1. CHI Conference Proceedings: The annual conference in Computer-Human Interaction is one of the most selective outlets for publishing usability and HCI research (with a ~20% acceptance rate). The articles can be found online using the ACM Digital Library–one of the best sources for all varieties of user experience research.
  2. Proceedings of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society:  The HFES conference has been held for over fifty years, and its annual proceedings have an excellent range of topics.
  3. Journal of Usability Studies: One of the most frustrating things about practitioners trying to apply the latest research is that so many journals are behind a Pay Wall. Often, a single article will cost $30 to $50. The Journal of Usability Studies is free and offers some of the best and most relevant research for practitioners. (Note: I also happen to be on the advisory board of JUS so I’m a bit biased).
  4. Behaviour and Information Technology: This British journal has published some famous papers, including one of the CUE studies by Rolf Molich.
  5. Human-Computer Interaction: A more technical journal publishing both empirical and theoretical issues in user behavior. It also published one of the five most influential papers on usability: Damaged Merchandise :A Review of Experiments That Compare Usability Evaluation Methods.
  6. HCII Conference Proceedings: The Human-Computer Interaction International Conference is held every other year. It’s a massive event, usually held in conjunction with other complementary conferences, and has looser acceptance criteria than CHI and HFES. The variety of topics more than offsets the potential for lower quality papers and it looks to be moving to an annual event.
  7. Interacting with Computers: A British journal that recently had a special issue on measurement scales edited by Jurek Kirakowski and Gitte Lindegaard.
  8. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction: Another interdisciplinary journal with quality in-depth publications including Jim Lewis’s 2001 paper on sample size adjustments as well as the famous paper by Hertzum and Jacobsen on the Evaluator Effect in Usability.
  9. International Journal of Human Computer-Studies: The journal is interdisciplinary, covering research in computing, artificial intelligence, psychology, linguistics, communication, design, engineering, and social organization, which are relevant to the design, analysis, evaluation and application of innovative, interactive systems.
  10. Human Factors: The journal of the Human Factors Society is separate from the conference proceedings. It is more technical in nature and contained two of the more famous studies on sample size, one from Virzi and the response from Lewis[pdf].
  11. Interactions Magazine: While not a peer-reviewed publication, this bi-monthly magazine contains a mix of research, opinion and practical advice for conducting user research. It is also put out by the Association for Computing Machinery and available online.
  12. User Experience Magazine: The User Experience Professionals Association’s (UxPA) quarterly magazine has more of a practitioner focus, especially on usability issues. It includes contributions from some of the better known companies and researchers in the UX field.
  13. INTERACT Conference Proceedings: The conference is held every two years and published some early and influential papers from the 1990s on usability evaluation from Nielsen and Bailey. These are also held online in the ACM digital library.
  14. Communications of the ACM :  This hybrid of peer review and magazine caters to the more technically focused but has included papers such as the interesting Meta Analysis by Nielsen in 1994 and the more recent discussion on sample size.
  15. Applied Ergonomics: A cross section of empirical papers on both physical and digital products.
  16. Computers in Human Behavior:  Empirical papers with more of a focus on the psychology of human-computer interaction.
  17. Ergonomics in Design:  A more practitioner-focused and reader-friendly quarterly peer-reviewed publication from HFES on all things product design.

Thanks to Joe Dumas and Jim Lewis for contributing to this list.

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