Detailed Program 2014-2015

Goals and Objectives

In this module, we will explore the role of research methods in computer science, drawing upon practical examples from empirical approaches in software engineering.

After this module, you should be able to ...

  • Name and explain different approaches to conduct computer science research (i.e. feasibility study, case study, comparative study, literature survey, ...).
  • Understand the peer reviewing process inherent in academic research, including the implications it has for reporting research results (i.e. writing papers).

Target audience: This tutorial is aimed at students who want to improve their research skills. In particular those who are concerned with

  1. fine-tuning research questions;
  2. deciding on the best way to address them and
  3. writing it all up in high-quality research papers.

Teaching Material

Assignment I: Review Papers

As assignment you will have to review three papers from the following list; assigned to you beforehand. Each of these papers represent good examples of the various research methods. You must review the paper using a pre-defined template. This template emphasises the various items covered during the lectures (writing abstracts; formulating research questions; identifying the unit of analysis; listing the threats to validity; ...)

Here's the list of papers. Each student has to review 3 -- the exact assignment is announced via blackboard

  • Paper 1 - Comparative Study
    • Bellon, S.; Koschke, R.; Antoniol, G.; Krinke, J.; Merlo, E., "Comparison and Evaluation of Clone Detection Tools," Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on , vol.33, no.9, pp.577,591, Sept. 2007
    • doi: 10.1109/TSE.2007.70725
  • Paper 2 - Literature Survey
    • Cornelissen, B.; Zaidman, A.; van Deursen, A.; Moonen, L.; Koschke, R., "A Systematic Survey of Program Comprehension through Dynamic Analysis," Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on , vol.35, no.5, pp.684,702, Sept.-Oct. 2009
    • doi: 10.1109/TSE.2009.28
  • Paper 3 - Experiment
    • Sobel, A.E.K.; Clarkson, M.R., "Formal methods application: an empirical tale of software development," Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on , vol.28, no.3, pp.308,320, Mar 2002
    • doi: 10.1109/32.991322
  • paper 4 - Exploratory Case Study
    • Nicolas Bettenburg, Sascha Just, Adrian Schröter, Cathrin Weiss, Rahul Premraj, and Thomas Zimmermann. 2008. What makes a good bug report?. In Proceedings of the 16th ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Foundations of software engineering (SIGSOFT '08/FSE-16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 308-318. 
    • doi: http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1453101.1453146

Here's the reviewing template

  • Review for the authors
    • Summary (i.e. 4-line abstract)
    • What is the purpose of this paper ?
    • Is the paper appropriate? (for computer science / software engineering / reengineering / …)
    • Is the goal significant ?
    • Is the method of approach valid ?
    • Is the actual execution of research correct ?
    • Are the correct conclusions drawn from the results ?
    • Is the presentation satisfactory ?
    • What did you learn ?
  • Review for fellow reviewers
    • Assessment: accept / accept with minor revisions / accept with major revision / reject
    • Strong Points (With all of the above in mind, give a list of things you especially appreciated.)
    • Points to Improve (With all of the above in mind, give a list of things you would like to see improved.)
    • For the Strong points and the points to improve, use keywords and telegram style; this is mainly for other reviewers to get a quick overview of what you said above.
The reviews must be handed in via blackboard (choose the appropriate assignment) at the latest on **Date to be announced** at 23:59 local time in Antwerp


Assignment II: Review Papers

Formulate a coherent and tangible research plan for one of your future research projects (research internship 1 - 2; or the masters thesis). This plan as well should emphasise the various items covered during the lectures (writing abstracts; formulating research questions; identifying the unit of analysis; listing the threats to validity; ...)