Project | Intro to Usable Sec. and Priv. (Fall 2024)

Research Project

Due Dates

All submissions should occur via blackboard as a single PDF for each of the due dates above.

Assignment Descriptions

You will complete a semester long project related to usability security and privacy. If you are registered for CSCI 4533, you are encouraged to work on the project in groups of 2 or individually. If you are in CSCI 6533, you must work individually on your project. While it is not necessarily required, it is expected that all projects have a user study that can either be qualitative or quantitative in nature, but you may also do a measurement or large/mid-scale comparison.

Historically, these small class projects can develop into real research projects and publications, so if you are interested in this research area, this is a great opportunity to explore an area that you are excited about. At the bottom are some sample research projects, but you are not required to use any of these. You can propose your own idea, if you want.

At the end of this project you will have conducted a small research project, provided a written description of the research, and produce a short video describing your work.

Projects Proposal (Due Sept 27)

Your proposal should include the following information, approximately one paragraph per-point.

  1. What research questions/hypothesis do you plan to address?
  2. What methods will you use in your investigate?
  3. What is your recruitment plan and target demographic?
  4. What is a timeline for your work?
  5. What are the ethical considerations? (see below)
  6. What is your analysis plan for any data you collect?

Following submission of your proposal, your group will schedule meetings with the instructor to get feedback and provide updates. Once the topic is approved, you are expected to make edits on your initial proposals for a final proposal.

Ethics Review (Due Oct 18)

As this research project is for the purpose of training and education students on how to conduct research and not to produce generalized knowledge research results, it is the general standard that this research does not require an ethics review. However, that does not mean you can conduct research unethically.

You are required to submit a preliminary draft of your study methods/protocol along with a justification that it meets ethical standards of treating participants fairly. Your ethics report should include the following section prompts with appropriate responses. The entire report should be 2-3 pages, not included attachments.

Ethics Report


Annotated Bibliography (Due Nov 9)

You will be expected to reference at least 10 research papers for your report. Of those, only half (5) can be papers included in the reading list for the class. To find relevant research papers, you should use Goolge Scholar as a starting point. However, you should try and cite papers from the following venues (below), and if you find articles not in these venues, consult the instructor to determine if they are appropriate for inclusion.

For your annotated bibliography, you should include the complete reference to the article, a brief summary of the research results (1 paragraph), and a description of how it relates to your current research project (1 paragraph).

Project Status Report (Due Nov 13)

You should submit a report indicating your progress on completing your project or any changes that need to be made in adjusting the project’s goal. Your report should include the following sections:

Project Presentation (Due Dec 2 or 9)

Each team will give a 10-minute presentation in class on either Dec 2 or 9, in class. Your presentation should cover the following topics.

Project Final Report (Due Dec 13)

Your final report should be between 6-8 pages, not including bibliography and appendix. It should be formatted as ACM, two column format. You can easily find this on overleaf. You should use the \documentclass[sigconf]{acmart} header for the two-column format.

Your paper should have the following outline (and descriptions):


As this is a class project, you will likely rely on friends and family to be your research participants – or your class mates :) If you wnat, you can explore using paneling platforms like Prolific or Qualtrics, but this costs money to you. Alternatively, you can post your survey or requests to r/SampleSize subreddit which is a easy, but somewhat unreliable way to recruit participants for surveys. Crowdsourcing on twitter (X) or other social media is also a good choice.

If you are running a survey, you can use a number of free-ish survey platforms to host your survey. Many of these do have fees, but have a free version. This includes SurveyJS, LimeSurvey, Qualtrics, and, of course, Google Forms. Additionally, Microsoft also has forms through their Office 365 account that could be used to complete this project.

If you are conducting interviews, you may want to consider using audio transcription tools. However, I strongly caution against trusting these transcriptions completely as there is significant errors. There are a number of products that link to Zoom and Google Meets to do transcriptions you can use, as well as a number of smartphone apps.


Proposal, Ethics, Biliography

You can receive one of four possible grades for the Proposal, Ethics, and Biliography portion

If you received a Needs Improvement or Incomplete, you can resubmit for corrections to raise your grade to satisfactory. Consult with the instructor on a timeline for doing that.


For this part of the project, you will be graded by four reviewers. Three (including the instructor) will be experts in the area, and the fourth will be the average of your classmates reviews. Your grade for the presentation will be the average sum of the following items.

Final Report

Project Topics

Below is a non-exhaustive list of topics and some general research questions that you can use to build a proposal. You may also propose your own topics. Note that you will need to develop your own more specific research question and methods of investigation for your research.