Systematic Literature Reviews
‘A review of a clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select, and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect and analyse data from the studies that are included in the review. Statistical methods (meta-analysis) may or may not be used to analyse and summarise the results of the included studies’ (Cochrane Collaboration, 2014) .
Knowing current status of a research topic is key to any research endeavour. More or less we have to write a related work section in most of our research projects. In many cases some people do it by searching in the net (like google or bing etc.) using some relevant “key word”. But this almost random approach is highly flawed, as it can’t ensure regularity and repeatability, so missing important and/or latest research are the outcomes of such random approach. In SLR we try to have a more regular and exhaustive approach based on some set of specific research questions and goals.
In following sections, we will provide necessary steps you have to follow to complete your SLR project for the course CSC 506/606. You should remember, this document only suggests a simplified version of an actual SLR (considering time and resource limitations), if you really want to have a SLR for your grad research then you need to follow the details process mentioned in other sources (check Details link)
Group formation: Each group should contain 2 to 4 persons. Individually one can complete his/her SLR too.
There are several core domains in software engineering. In below we provide a list of major domains and example of some related subcategories. The list is not exhaustive rather limited – we just show some examples here, so you may consult and search for other major areas and topics.
First choose a research area from the above list(or you can propose your own). You should do a quick study from the net (quick wikipedia reading might help).
It will be better if you can phrase a research question based on the topic you choose. Like if you have chosen “Agile” as your area of interest – some related questions can be as follows-
“What is the current status of Agile practices in Saudi Arabia?” “How extensively user story has been incorporated?”
You may come up with a goal statement over a specific question. Like if you have chosen structural testing, some related goal statement may looks as follows-
“Finding new coverage measures and their effectiveness” “Investigating the use of coverage measures in industry”
A research question or a goal statement will help you to focus on a specific research topic.
As we are looking for research works in the web, we need to specify a search strings. Follow the following steps to formulate search strings-
papers you get.
|Search engine||Search key words||Result||Restrictions|
|Scholar.google.com||Agile software process and Saudi Arabia||2420 papers||After 2013|
|http://ieeexplore.ieee.org||Agile software process and Saudi Arabia||5 Papers||None|
After the search if you find too many papers to handle then you may use some tools like EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero. They support downloading search results in various format. Alternatively, you may follow a manual process like copy pasting each search entry in spreadsheet while you are reading it which might be highly cumbersome.
In most cases after searching you may come with a huge number of papers. So you have to go through a tedious process to get rid of irrelevant papers. In a real SLR this is the most difficult and time consuming part, but for this course we will follow a simpler approach –
In this phase you will use relevant papers to extract some data based on your research questions or goals. Like an example for “Agile… Saudi Arabia”, we can propose this following extraction table –
|Paper ID||Paper Title||Year||Number of Citations||Type of the paper||User Story||Pair Programmin g||Unit Testing|
|1||“Agile in Middle East”||20XX||5||Survey||Yes||Yes|
|2||“How to introduce Agile”||20XX||10||Case study||Yes||No||Yes|
You have to read all the relevant papers and summarize them. I am expecting individually minimum 7+ papers for each study (30 papers for a four persons’ group). The report may contains following materials –
Presentation: Starting from 12th Week (30 minutes for each SLR) Report Submission: 14th Week (before starting of the final exam)
Beside the final report, submit spreadsheets/data file and your presentation slides.
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