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Towards understanding the relation between citations and research quality in software engineering studies
Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, Fakulteten för datavetenskaper, Institutionen för programvaruteknik.
Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, Fakulteten för datavetenskaper, Institutionen för programvaruteknik.
Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, Fakulteten för datavetenskaper, Institutionen för datalogi och datorsystemteknik. Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, Fakulteten för datavetenskaper, Institutionen för programvaruteknik.
2018 (Engelska)Ingår i: Scientometrics, ISSN 0138-9130, E-ISSN 1588-2861Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The importance of achieving high quality in research practice has been highlighted in different disciplines. At the same time, citations are utilized to measure the impact of academic researchers and institutions. One open question is whether the quality in the reporting of research is related to scientific impact, which would be desired. In this exploratory study we aim to: (1) Investigate how consistently a scoring rubric for rigor and relevance has been used to assess research quality of software engineering studies; (2) Explore the relationship between rigor, relevance and citation count. Through backward snowball sampling we identified 718 primary studies assessed through the scoring rubric. We utilized cluster analysis and conditional inference tree to explore the relationship between quality in the reporting of research (represented by rigor and relevance) and scientiometrics (represented by normalized citations). The results show that only rigor is related to studies’ normalized citations. Besides that, confounding factors are likely to influence the number of citations. The results also suggest that the scoring rubric is not applied the same way by all studies, and one of the likely reasons is because it was found to be too abstract and in need to be further refined. Our findings could be used as a basis to further understand the relation between the quality in the reporting of research and scientific impact, and foster new discussions on how to fairly acknowledge studies for performing well with respect to the emphasized research quality. Furthermore, we highlighted the need to further improve the scoring rubric. © 2018, The Author(s).

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Springer Netherlands , 2018.
Nyckelord [en]
Conditional inference tree, Empirical software engineering, Exploratory study, Reporting of research, Research practice, Scientific impact
Nationell ämneskategori
Programvaruteknik
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-17086DOI: 10.1007/s11192-018-2907-3Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85053837175OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-17086DiVA, id: diva2:1253605
Tillgänglig från: 2018-10-05 Skapad: 2018-10-05 Senast uppdaterad: 2019-04-24Bibliografiskt granskad
Ingår i avhandling
1. Views of Research Quality in Empirical Software Engineering
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Views of Research Quality in Empirical Software Engineering
2019 (Engelska)Doktorsavhandling, sammanläggning (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

Background. Software Engineering (SE) research, like other applied disciplines, intends to provide trustful evidence to practice. To ensure trustful evidence, a rigorous research process based on sound research methodologies is required. Further, to be practically relevant, researchers rely on identifying original research problems that are of interest to industry; and the research must fulfill various quality standards that form the basis for the evaluation of the empirical research in SE. A dialogue and shared view of quality standards for research practice is still to be achieved within the research community.

 Objectives. The main objective of this thesis is to foster dialogue and capture different views of SE researchers on method level (e.g., through the identification and reasoning on the importance of quality characteristics for experiments, surveys and case studies) as well as general quality standards for Empirical Software Engineering (ESE). Given the views of research quality, a second objective is to understand how to operationalize, i.e. build and validate instruments to assess research quality. 

Method. The thesis makes use of a mixed method approach of both qualitative and quantitative nature. The research methods used were case studies, surveys, and focus groups. A range of data collection methods has been employed, such as literature review, questionnaires, and semi-structured workshops. To analyze the data, we utilized content and thematic analysis, descriptive and inferential statistics.

Results. We draw two distinct views of research quality. Through a top-down approach, we assessed and evolved a conceptual model of research quality within the ESE research community. Through a bottom-up approach, we built a checklist instrument for assessing survey-based research grounded on supporting literature and evaluated ours and others’ checklists in research practice and research education contexts.

Conclusion. The quality standards we identified and operationalized support and extend the current understanding of research quality for SE research. This is a preliminary, but still vital, step towards a shared understanding and view of research quality for ESE research. Further steps are needed to gain a shared understanding of research quality within the community. 

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2019
Serie
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 7
Nyckelord
Research Quality, Quality Standards, Empirical Software Engineering, Research Methodology
Nationell ämneskategori
Programvaruteknik
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:bth-17648 (URN)978-91-7295-372-7 (ISBN)
Disputation
2019-06-14, J1650, Campus Gräsvik, Karlskrona, 13:00 (Engelska)
Opponent
Handledare
Tillgänglig från: 2019-03-05 Skapad: 2019-02-27 Senast uppdaterad: 2019-05-09Bibliografiskt granskad

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