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Identifying the information needs and sources of software practitioners.: A mixed method approach.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Context. Every day software practitioners need information for resolving a number of questions. This information need should be identified and addressed in order to successfully develop and deliver a software system. One of the ways to address these information needs is to make use of some information sources like blogs, websites, documentation etc. Identifying the needs and sources of software practitioners can improve and benefit the practitioners as well as the software development process. But the information needs and sources of software practitioners are partially studied and rather it is mostly focused on the knowledge management in software engineering. So, the current context of this study is to identify the information needs and information sources of software practitioners and also to investigate the practitioner’s perception on different information sources.           

Objectives. In this study we primarily investigated some of the information needs of software practitioners and the information sources that they use to fulfill their needs. Secondly we investigated the practitioner’s perception on available information sources by identifying the aspects that they consider while using different information sources. 

Methods. To achieve the research objectives this study conducted an empirical investigation by performing a survey, with two data collection techniques. A simple literature review was also performed initially to identify some of the information needs and sources of software practitioners. Then we started survey by conducting the semi-structured interviews, based on the data obtained from the literature. Moreover, an online questionnaire was designed, after conducting the preliminary analysis of the data obtained from both the interviews and literature review. Coding process of grounded theory was used for analyzing the data obtained from the interviews and descriptive statistics were used for analyzing the data obtained from the online questionnaire. The data obtained from both the qualitative and quantitative methods is triangulated by comparing the identified information needs and sources with those that are presented in the literature. 

Results. From the preliminary literature review, we identified seven information needs and six information sources. Based on the results of the literature review, we then conducted interviews with software practitioners and identified nine information needs and thirteen information sources. From the interviews we also investigated the aspects that software practitioners look into, while using different information sources and thus we identified four major aspects. We then validated the results from the literature review and interviews with the help of an online questionnaire. From the online questionnaire, we finally identified the frequency of occurrence of the identified information needs and the frequency of use of different information sources.     

Conclusions. We identified that the software practitioners are currently facing nine type of information needs, out of which, information on clarifying the requirements and information on produce design and architecture are the most frequently faced needs. To address these needs most of the practitioners are using the information sources like blogs and community forums, product documentation and discussion with colleagues. While the research articles are moderately used and the IT magazines and social networking sites are least used to address their needs. We also identified that most of the practitioners consider the reliability/accuracy of the information source as an extremely important factor. The identified information needs and sources along with the practitioner’s perception are clearly elucidated in the document.

A future direction of this work could be, testing the applicability of the identified information needs by extending the sample population. Also, there is a scope for research on how the identified information needs can be minimized to make the information acquisition more easy for the practitioners. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 91 p.
Keyword [en]
Information needs (IN), information sources (IS), aspects of the information source and software practitioners.
National Category
Software Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-12832OAI: diva2:946466
Subject / course
PA2534 Master's Thesis (120 credits) in Software Engineering
Educational program
PAAXA Master of Science Programme in Software Engineering
2016-05-30, J1360, Blekinge Institute of Technology SE-371 79, Sweden, Karlskrona, 14:00 (English)
Available from: 2016-07-06 Created: 2016-07-05 Last updated: 2016-07-06Bibliographically approved

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