Guidelines for conducting software engineering research

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Stol, Klaas-Jan
Fitzgerald, Brian
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Springer International Publishing
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This chapter presents a holistic overview of software engineering research strategies. It identifies the two main modes of research within the software engineering research field, namely knowledge-seeking and solution-seeking research—the Design Science model corresponding well with the latter. We present the ABC framework for research strategies as a model to structure knowledge-seeking research. The ABC represents three desirable aspects of research—generalizability over actors (A), precise control of behavior (B) and realism of context (C). Unfortunately, as our framework illustrates, these three aspects cannot be simultaneously maximised. We describe the two dimensions that provide the foundation of the ABC framework—generalizability and control, explain the four different types of settings in which software engineering research is conducted, and position eight archetypal research strategies within the ABC framework. We illustrate each strategy with examples, identify appropriate metaphors, and present an example of how the ABC framework can be used to design a research programme.
Software engineering research , ABC framework for research strategies , Knowledge-seeking research , Solution-seeking research , Design Science model , Software engineering
Stol, K.-J. and Fitzgerald, B. (2020) 'Guidelines for Conducting Software Engineering Research', in Felderer, M. & Travassos, G.H. (eds.) Contemporary Empirical Methods in Software Engineering. Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 27-62. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-32489-6_2
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