What Makes Good Research in Software Engineering?

Author: Mary Shaw

Presented as an invited lecture at the European Joint Conference on Theory and Practice of Software,
in April 2002 in Grenoble, France.  Opinion corner department, International Journal on Software Tools
for Technology Transfer, vol. 4, no. 1, Oct. 2002, pp. 1-7.

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Physics, biology, and medicine have well-refined public explanations of their research processes.  Even in simplified form, these provide guidance about what counts as "good research" both inside and outside the field.  Software engineering has not yet explicitly identified and explained either our research processes or the ways we recognize excellent work.

Science and engineering research fields can be characterized in terms of the kinds of  questions they find worth investigating, the research methods they adopt, and the criteria by which they evaluate their results. I will present such a characterization for software engineering, showing the diversity of research strategies and the way they shift as ideas mature. Understanding these strategies should help software engineers design research plans and report the results clearly; it should also help explain the character of software engineering research to computer science at large and to other scientists.


Brought to you by Composable Software Systems Research Group in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

[Last modified 16 September 2002. Mail suggestions to the Maintainer.]