Middle Tennessee State University will host a spring conference on information technology that organizers hope will serve as a springboard for a university-led initiative to further develop a culture of research across the university, particularly among undergraduate students.
For the first time, MTSU’s Department of Information Systems and Analytics in the Jones College of Business is hosting and sponsoring the 2024 ACM SIGMIS Computers and People Research Conference set for May 29-June 1, 2024, at MTSU.
The theme for the conference is “Trust and Legitimacy in Emerging Technologies: Organizational and Societal Implications for People, Places and Power.”
ACM SIGMIS is the acronym for the Association for Computing Machinery, or ACM, and its Special Interest Group on Management Information Systems, or SIGMIS. Now more than 75 years old, the ACM touts itself as “the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society (that) delivers resources that advance computing as a science and a profession … and serves its members and the computing profession with leading-edge publications, conferences and career resources.”
“The ACM is one of the oldest, most prestigious IT organizations in the U.S,” said Sam Zaza, MTSU associate professor of information systems and analytics and chair of the conference. “SIGMIS has been running this conference for over 50 years, and the Data Base for Advances in Information Systems is the journal attached to the SIG. … This is a great opportunity for students to have their work peer-reviewed and maybe even published in a well-respected journal.”
MTSU students (undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D.) and faculty across all disciplines are encouraged to start preparing now to participate in a conference that explores research surrounding the intersection of information technology and people and emerging topics in the field such as bias within artificial intelligence and how to address it.
“Research is a mindset, whether our undergrad students want to continue in academia or not,” Zaza said. “That doesn’t matter because going through the research process gives you a mindset that is crucial for the workplace. Why? Because research is where you go through a process of identifying a problem and you are trying to find a solution, and the way you try to find a solution is through collecting data or using data that you already have, then articulate your solution to your stakeholders.”
Tim Greer, chair of MTSU’s Department of Information Systems and Analytics and a communication chair for the conference, encouraged students who’ve perhaps done a term paper, research paper, independent study or honors thesis within the past year to consider submitting that work for review and possible presentation at the spring conference.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to get feedback from their peers and other scholars, and perhaps take their research further,” he said. “This would be a great first step to test the waters for students interested in research.”
Submissions open Dec. 1, 2023, with a Feb. 5, 2024, deadline. Students and faculty would receive a notification of acceptance on March 8, 2024.
Addressing bias, mitigation in IT
The annual conference draws SIGMIS members from around the country and world that include computer professionals, educators, MIS managers, and human resource specialists from a broad range of organizations.
SIGMIS CPR 2024 is calling for attention and concerted research in three key areas, including: 1) addressing issues of bias and bias mitigation in emerging technologies; 2) embracing alternative approaches in conducting IS research; 3) new challenges and opportunities facing the IT workforce.
In its call for research papers, posters, panels and presentations, the organization notes that “the exponential progress of technology has created the need to address bias and bias mitigation in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the metaverse, datafication and quantum computing.
“While these technologies are transformative, they can perpetuate social inequalities. Effective methods for measuring and mitigating algorithmic bias are crucial, as well as promoting the use of diverse and inclusive data sets.”
Zaza hopes MTSU students, from undergraduates to graduates, and faculty, and across academic disciplines who are interested in the field, will take advantage of the opportunity.
“All disciplines have some aspect of technology involved, so we want students and faculty, regardless of their discipline, who are interested in topics surrounding technology to participate,” she said.
Expanding students’ research opportunities
Zaza hopes to use the spring conference as a jumpstart for an annual MTSU conference that provides opportunities each year for students at all levels and faculty to collaborate and have peer-to-peer interactions surrounding research related to information systems and technologies.
The conference would be welcoming participants from universities around the region and surrounding states, Zaza said, where “all of our students can interact with other students from other universities and present their work, talk about their work … and maybe those students will be interested in our undergraduate and graduate programs.”
The idea started “from the need to develop not just the technical skills of students but also the people skills.” Instead of sending one faculty with one student to present at a conference, this initiative will allow a peer-to-peer interaction among students and provide an outlet for MTSU students to showcase their work, she said.
“It will elevate the quality of the research by our students if they know they will be presenting to a professional, wider audience than the classmates,” Zaza said, adding that she will also be inviting industry partners to attend “so they can see ‘our product’ and hopefully start the conversation between them and our graduates for job opportunities and what they are looking for.”
For more information about 2024 ACM SIGMIS conference, visit https://sigmis.org/cpr/ or email Zaza at Sam.Zaza@mtsu.edu.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)