Survey Research in Software Engineering: Problems and Mitigation Strategies

Ahmad Nauman Ghazi, Kai Petersen, Sri Sai Vijay Raj Reddy, Harini Nekkanti
2019 IEEE Access  
The need for empirical investigations in software engineering is growing. Many researchers nowadays, conduct and validate their solutions using empirical research. Survey is one empirical method which enables researchers to collect data from a large population. Main aim of the survey is to generalize the findings. Aims: In this study we aim to identify the problems researchers face during survey design, and mitigation strategies. Method: A literature review as well as semi-structured interviews
more » ... ructured interviews with nine software engineering researchers were conducted to elicit their views on problems and mitigation strategies. The researchers are all focused on empirical software engineering. Results: We identified 24 problems and 65 strategies, structured according to the survey research process. The most commonly discussed problem was sampling, in particular the ability to obtain a sufficiently large sample. To improve survey instrument design, evaluation and execution recommendations for question formulation and survey pre-testing were given. The importance of involving multiple researchers in the analysis of survey results was stressed. Conclusions: The elicited problems and strategies may serve researchers during the design of their studies. However, it was observed that some strategies were conflicting. This shows that it is important to conduct a trade-off analysis between strategies.
doi:10.1109/access.2018.2881041 fatcat:mftlogtfdvaonnfh6v6z532lpu