A study into the practice of reporting software engineering experiments

Kate Cerqueira Revoredo, Djordje Djurica, Jan Mendling

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

It has been argued that reporting software engineering experiments in a standardized way helps researchers find relevant information, understand how experiments were conducted and assess the validity of their results. Various guidelines have been proposed specifically for software engineering experiments. The benefits of such guidelines have often been emphasized, but the actual uptake and practice of reporting have not yet been investigated since the introduction of many of the more recent guidelines. In this research, we utilize a mixed-method study design including sequence analysis techniques for evaluating to which extent papers follow such guidelines. Our study focuses on the four most prominent software engineering journals and the time period from 2000 to 2020. Our results show that many experimental papers miss information suggested by guidelines, that no de facto standard sequence for reporting exists, and that many papers do not cite any guidelines. We discuss these findings and implications for the discipline of experimental software engineering focusing on the review process and the potential to refine and extend guidelines, among others, to account for theory explicitly.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Volume26
Issue number113
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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