The Open UniversitySkip to content
 

The Role of Ethnographic Studies in Empirical Software Engineering

Sharp, Helen; Dittrich, Yvonne and de Souza, Cleidson (2016). The Role of Ethnographic Studies in Empirical Software Engineering. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 42(8) pp. 786–804.

Full text available as:
[img]
Preview
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (459kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1109/TSE.2016.2519887
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar

Abstract

Ethnography is a qualitative research method used to study people and cultures. It is largely adopted in disciplines outside software engineering, including different areas of computer science. Ethnography can provide an in-depth understanding of the socio-technological realities surrounding everyday software development practice, i.e., it can help to uncover not only what practitioners do, but also why they do it. Despite its potential, ethnography has not been widely adopted by empirical software engineering researchers, and receives little attention in the related literature. The main goal of this paper is to explain how empirical software engineering researchers would benefit from adopting ethnography. This is achieved by explicating four roles that ethnography can play in furthering the goals of empirical software engineering: to strengthen investigations into the social and human aspects of software engineering; to inform the design of software engineering tools; to improve method and process development; and to inform research programmes. This article introduces ethnography, explains its origin, context, strengths and weaknesses, and presents a set of dimensions that position ethnography as a useful and usable approach to empirical software engineering research. Throughout the paper, relevant examples of ethnographic studies of software practice are used to illustrate the points being made.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 IEEE
ISSN: 0098-5589
Keywords: design tools and techniques; human factors in software design; software engineering process; computer-supported collaborative work
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Computing and Communications
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Research in Computing (CRC)
Item ID: 45166
Depositing User: Helen Sharp
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2016 14:22
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2017 11:22
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/45166
Share this page:

Altmetrics

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU