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Experiences from Using Snowballing and Database Searches in Systematic Literature Studies
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering. (SERL Sweden)
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering. (SERL Sweden)
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering. (SERL Sweden)
2015 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Background: Systematic literature studies are commonly used in software engineering. There are two main ways of conducting the searches for these type of studies; they are snowballing and database searches. In snowballing, the reference list (backward snowballing - BSB) and citations (forward snowballing - FSB) of relevant papers are reviewed to identify new papers whereas in a database search, different databases are searched using predefined search strings to identify new papers. Objective: Snowballing has not been in use as extensively as database search. Hence it is important to evaluate its efficiency and reliability when being used as a search strategy in literature studies. Moreover, it is important to compare it to database searches. Method: In this paper, we applied snowballing in a literature study, and reflected on the outcome. We also compared database search with backward and forward snowballing. Database search and snowballing were conducted independently by different researchers. The searches of our literature study were compared with respect to the efficiency and reliability of the findings. Results: Out of the total number of papers found, snowballing identified 83% of the papers in comparison to 46% of the papers for the database search. Snowballing failed to identify a few relevant papers, which potentially could have been addressed by identifying a more comprehensive start set. Conclusion: The efficiency of snowballing is comparable to database search. It can potentially be more reliable than a database search however, the reliability is highly dependent on the creation of a suitable start set.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ACM Press, 2015. Vol. Article No. 17
National Category
Software Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-11371DOI: 10.1145/2745802.2745818ISBN: 978-1-4503-3350-4OAI: diva2:891278
Proceedings 19th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE 2015), Nanjing, China
Knowledge Foundation, 20140218
Available from: 2016-01-06 Created: 2016-01-06 Last updated: 2016-03-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Towards decision-making to choose among different component origins
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards decision-making to choose among different component origins
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Context: The amount of software in solutions provided in various domains is continuously growing. These solutions are a mix of hardware and software solutions, often referred to as software-intensive systems. Companies seek to improve the software development process to avoid delays or cost overruns related to the software development.  

Objective: The overall goal of this thesis is to improve the software development/building process to provide timely, high quality and cost efficient solutions. The objective is to select the origin of the components (in-house, outsource, components off-the-shelf (COTS) or open source software (OSS)) that facilitates the improvement. The system can be built of components from one origin or a combination of two or more (or even all) origins. Selecting a proper origin for a component is important to get the most out of a component and to optimize the development. 

Method: It is necessary to investigate the component origins to make decisions to select among different origins. We conducted a case study to explore the existing challenges in software development.  The next step was to identify factors that influence the choice to select among different component origins through a systematic literature review using a snowballing (SB) strategy and a database (DB) search. Furthermore, a Bayesian synthesis process is proposed to integrate the evidence from literature into practice.  

Results: The results of this thesis indicate that the context of software-intensive systems such as domain regulations hinder the software development improvement. In addition to in-house development, alternative component origins (outsourcing, COTS, and OSS) are being used for software development. Several factors such as time, cost and license implications influence the selection of component origins. Solutions have been proposed to support the decision-making. However, these solutions consider only a subset of factors identified in the literature.   

Conclusions: Each component origin has some advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the scenario, one component origin is more suitable than the others. It is important to investigate the different scenarios and suitability of the component origins, which is recognized as future work of this thesis. In addition, the future work is aimed at providing models to support the decision-making process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2016. 156 p.
Blekinge Institute of Technology Licentiate Dissertation Series, ISSN 1650-2140 ; 2016:01
Component-based software development, component origin, decision-making, snowballing, database search, Bayesian synthesis
National Category
Other Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering Other Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering Software Engineering
urn:nbn:se:bth-11653 (URN)978-91-7295-323-9 (ISBN)
2016-04-13, J1650, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, Karlskrona, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2016-02-24 Created: 2016-02-24 Last updated: 2016-04-13Bibliographically approved

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Badampudi, DeepikaWohlin, ClaesPetersen, Kai
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