Four Years of FAccT: A Reflexive, Mixed-Methods Analysis of Research Contributions, Shortcomings, and Future Prospects

by   Benjamin Laufer, et al.

Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAccT) for socio-technical systems has been a thriving area of research in recent years. An ACM conference bearing the same name has been the central venue for scholars in this area to come together, provide peer feedback to one another, and publish their work. This reflexive study aims to shed light on FAccT's activities to date and identify major gaps and opportunities for translating contributions into broader positive impact. To this end, we utilize a mixed-methods research design. On the qualitative front, we develop a protocol for reviewing and coding prior FAccT papers, tracing their distribution of topics, methods, datasets, and disciplinary roots. We also design and administer a questionnaire to reflect the voices of FAccT community members and affiliates on a wide range of topics. On the quantitative front, we use the full text and citation network associated with prior FAccT publications to provide further evidence about topics and values represented in FAccT. We organize the findings from our analysis into four main dimensions: the themes present in FAccT scholarship, the values that underpin the work, the impact of the contributions both within academic circles and beyond, and the practices and informal norms of the community that has formed around FAccT. Finally, our work identifies several suggestions on directions for change, as voiced by community members.


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