Ethnographically-informed empirical studies of software practice

Robinson, Hugh; Segal, Judith and Sharp, Helen (2007). Ethnographically-informed empirical studies of software practice. Information and Software Technology, 49(6) pp. 540–551.



Over the past decade we have performed a sustained series of qualitative studies of software development practice, focusing on social factors. Using an ethnographically-informed approach, we have addressed four areas of software practice: software quality management systems, the emergence of object technology, professional end user development and agile development. Several issues have arisen from this experience, including the nature of research questions that such studies can address, the advantages and challenges associated with being a member of the community under study, and how to maintain rigour in data collection. In this paper, we will draw on our studies to illustrate our approach and to discuss these and other issues.

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