Skip to main content

Evolution of secondary studies in software engineering

TitleEvolution of secondary studies in software engineering
Author(s)David Budgen & Pearl Brereton
DetailsShort Communication: 2022
AbstractContext: Other disciplines commonly employ secondary studies to address the needs of practitioners and policy-makers.  Since being adopted by software engineering in 2004, many have been undertaken by researchers.
Objective: To assess how the role of secondary studies in software engineering has evolved.
Method: We examined a sample of 131 secondary studies published in a set of five major software engineering journals for the years 2010, 2015 and 2020.  These were categorised by their {\em type} (e.g. mapping study), their research focus (quantitative/qualitative and practice/methodological), as well as the experience of the first authors.
Results: Secondary studies are now a well-established research tool. They are predominantly qualitative and there is extensive use of mapping studies to profile research in particular areas. A significant number are clearly produced as part of postgraduate study, although experienced researchers also conduct many secondary studies. They are sometimes also used as part of a multi-method study.
Conclusions: Existing guidelines largely focus upon quantitative systematic reviews. Based on our findings, we suggest that more guidance is needed on how to conduct, analyse, and report qualitative secondary studies.
TopicsSecondary Study, Software Engineering