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Advice for Organisers of Catalogue Topic Discussions

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Our (RDWG) Charter specifies that every second week's meeting be dedicated to informal discussions of research and development topics that are not being investigated or are not being sufficiently investigated.


These meetings are in support of our 'Research Resources Catalog' deliverable; being an annotated catalog of research and development topics that are not being investigated or are not being sufficiently investigated. Descriptions and implications of each question or issue will be provided as well as links to additional information if available. Our overarching aims are to:

  • Explore trends in accessibility research and developments, and helping to identify potential implications for the Web;
  • Identify and detailing areas of research (existing or absent) that may significantly impact accessibility of the Web;
  • Provide a forum/platform for researchers to meet and discuss web accessibility research directions, and support the exchange between researchers with complementary expertise;
  • Develop approaches to promote awareness and provide guidance on accessibility to researchers in various areas;
  • Coordinate with relevant groups within or outside W3C to increase the reach and impact of RDWG;
  • Review and comment on the work in other W3C groups for dependencies with the requirements of the RDWG; and
  • Contribute input where appropriate on future development of WAI guidelines and specifications.

These 'Catalogue Topic Discussions' must then support these aims and focus on research and development topics that are not being investigated or are not being sufficiently investigated, being selected from the RDWG Wiki.

Order and Rational

These discussions are intended to become progressively more focused, as we presume the organiser may not be an expert on all aspects of the Catalogue topic they are contributing to. In this case we have a rough order:

  1. Question Creation - actually we think these are more discussion topics not question - or at least questions as starting points for - initially - broad discussions;
  2. Question Gathering - a message to the group asking for additions to the questions, discussion topics, discussion areas already specified;
  3. Initial Research Meeting Internal Only - broad core group discussion, and decision as to either write this topic up, or extend into a more focused discussions, indicating a return to the topic in future weeks;
  4. Focused Research Meeting with Invited External participants if deemed useful - additional - possibly multiple - meetings iterating until we thing the discussion have been concluded; and
  5. Write-up - write up of the catalogue topic and placement in the catalogue for public view (after group approval).


These discussions are intended to be informal but even so:

  1. Require an organiser (and, where possible, a Rapporteur);
  2. Should have the general elements of:
    • Creating a Common Understanding;
    • Facilitate a Discusion of an Important Topic; and
    • Assess the Requirements for Further Discussions (Follow On Catalogue Topic Discussion with Invited Experts, or a Full Symposium).
  3. The organisers (Organiser and Rapporteur) should realise that they will need to prepare a short online Catalogue Entry detailing the background (and references), discussion, and outcomes.
  4. The organisers should expect to be named as the authors of the Catalogue Entry, and the Entry will be created in a citable format with a specific citation similar to other online norms.

Combined Thoughts from Previous Organisers

  • list of discussion questions was helpful. It also helped me format an idea of where I thought it would go and the input of others helped as well as ensuring more interest;
  • discussion questions were used as general guides or prompts in case we finished a section quickly or the call was a bit silent for participation;
  • of the 1 hr, there was really only 50 minutes due to time for everyone to get logged in and organised;
  • recording the call was helpful in making the notes - I should have taken this into consideration as I'd have liked more time at the end for 'future considerations';
  • used a Skype add-on called 'Riviera for Skype' for recording- pretty cheap ($20 or so) and it has a 14 day trial;
  • had some good pre-meeting suggestions from various RDWG members which helped to get the intro into some shape; and
  • some interesting future research questions raised by members after the discussion finished and submitted by email.


We expect that the outcomes of these discussions will not make any concrete decrees as to any particular position being correct or incorrect - how can they, we haven't done the work... yet. Instead, we can think of these outcomes as position papers, or advice to future researchers, and so should:

  • detail the state-of-the-art (per the background) as it exists at the current time;
  • detail the discussion;
  • provide insight as to any thing which may lead future researchers down a pre-existing but incorrect research avenue;
  • list the different opinions and points-of-view; and,
  • then come out with a list of interesting areas (topics) to be pursued in the future.

This list is neither extensive nor prescriptive and mainly serves as a guide right now.


We expect this to be an agile (and fast process) which still conforms to the high quality expected by the W3C. In general we see this as a month turn around, followed by a weekly iteration by the core group to provide corrections or sign off on the work. The chair or staff contact will provide a survey to collect comments once the initial draft is complete.