Systematic Literature Reviews (IS) | Online Assignment Help

Systematic Literature Reviews

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What is SLR?


‘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) [1].


Why SLR?


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.


Possible Research Areas


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.


  1. Software development process management
    • Agile development process
      • Scrum
      • Pair programming
      • User story
    • Traditional processes(like waterfall)
      • Agile vs Traditional
    • Process improvement
    • Process measurements
  2. Requirements
    • Elicitation techniques
    • Requirements from conformance (laws or standard)
    • Documenting, Managing & tracking requirements
    • Presenting requirement using diagrams (ex. UML diagrams)
  3. Software Design and development
    • Software Architecture
      • Service oriented software architecture
      • Architecture degeneration


  • Refactoring to improve architecture
  • Embedded system
  • Objected oriented design
    • Design patterns
    • COTS
  • Aspected oriented design
  • UML and other models
  1. Testing
    • Structural testing
      • Control flow coverages
        • Branch coverage
        • MC/DC
      • Data flow coverage
        • Def-use pairs
        • C-use
        • P-use
      • Blackbox/Whitebox testing
      • System testing
      • Unit testing
      • Regression testing
      • Acceptance testing
    • Mutation based testing
      • Code mutation
      • Design mutation
  1. Metrics
    • Goal question metrics
    • Product metrics
      • Complexity metrics
      • Size metrics
    • Process metrics
  2. Software evolution
    • Legacy System
  3. Qualities
    • Testability
    • Performance & Efficiency
    • Robustness
  4. Software security and privacy
    • Authentication





Choose a research topic


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).


Deadline: 2nd Week Research question or goal

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.


Deadline: 3rd Week Formulate search keywords

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-


  1. Come up with some search keywords which are most relevant to your
    • Example – For the question – “What is the current status of Agile practices in Saudi Arabia?” – Your Key can be – “Agile Software Process Saudi Arabia”
  2. Have a quick search (use google scholar, recommended but not mandatory) to see the quality of the

papers you get.

  1. Try with some synonyms or close terms and see the result too, especially important if you are not sure about the topic and didn’t get enough relevant
  2. You may use “And/Or” etc. operation (most of the search engines support such operations) while searching.
  3. If you are satisfied, then record the result for each search like the following table-


Search engine Search key words Result Restrictions Agile software process and Saudi Arabia 2420 papers After 2013 Agile software process and Saudi Arabia 5 Papers None





Download the search result


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.


Finding relevant papers


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 –


  1. Filtering by limiting search
    • Use filtering mechanism in search engine – like imposing year restriction
    • Use advance search
      • some search engine support specific domain searching
      • Use and/or operations or quotation marks (“”)
  1. Discard by reading title and abstract


  1. Quickly read the title and abstract (downloading the search results will help here) and mark them as Relevant, Irrelevant and Not sure (use an spreadsheet like excel).
  2. For the “Not Sure” you and your group mate double check each If you still have confusion then skim through the paper.
  3. Discard by skimming through the papers
    1. In this phase you have to download all the papers marked as “Relevant”. If AQU doesn’t have the subscription then mark it as “Not Subscribed” (you may search the pdf from other source, many people share a free version in sites like “Research gate” or their institution’s website).
    2. You have to skim through the papers, like reading introduction, conclusion and use pdf search option (use specific relevant keywords) to look for relevant
    3. After skimming you take a firm decision to accept the paper for the SLR or discard it as irrelevant.
    4. Adding more papers
      1. Sometimes you may miss important papers due to bad/limited searching. You may find mentioning of some important papers by the other authors while reading/skimming through your collected papers.
      2. Feel free to add them in your “Relevant papers Set” and continue the process even with the new set of papers(this is called snowballing). If you impose a year restriction and you find older but relevant paper during snowballing you may disregard them. On the other hand no serious study should ignore seminal papers in a particular research


Data Extraction


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


Report the study


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 –


  1. An introduction to describe why you think this topic is
  2. Describe the whole process you follow to get these relevant papers (start with research questions/goals, Key word formulation….). This part is important as it will ensure your process is repeatable and verifiable.
  3. Produce some graphs/charts based on the extracted data (not mandatory but it naturally attract attention easily). Graphs can be presented in a separate section with some description or you can put them in other subsections (see the points below)
  4. For summarizing have some categories based on the relevant papers it organizes the report in a better way
    • Write a single paragraph for each paper
    • Provide necessary graphs or stat
  5. Have a discussion where you summarize your whole Mention your significant findings, as it may guide future research.
  6. Have a conclusion and future work


Presentation and Submission:


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.





Details Link: You should check these following links to get a complete idea on SLR.



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