Advice on Finding Relevant Research Papers

One of the questions I often get asked by new research students in my lab is how can they find research papers that are relevant to their thesis. For a student new to research this can be a very daunting task and doing a straight Google, Bing or Yahoo search generates a lot of noise (i.e. irrelevant content, non peer-reviewed papers, etc.).

The first advice I usually give is where to start searching. There are a number of academic-specific search engines that provide good results from a wide variety of researcher, publisher and academic websites. For example: Continue reading

Empirical Methods Should Guide the Development of New Software Engineering Tools

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The following quote is one of my favorite quotes regarding the right way to conduct Software Engineering (SE) research. It summarizes the importance of utilizing empirical methods to inspire and guide the development of new SE tools and techniques:

“In all fields of SE, empirical methods should enable the development of scientific knowledge about how useful different SE technologies are, for different kinds of actors, performing different kinds of activities, on different kinds of systems. Such scientific knowledge should guide the development of new SE technology and be a major input to important SE decisions in industry and services.”

– Dag I. K. Sjoberg, Tore Dyba, Magne Jorgensen. The future of empirical methods in software engineering research. In Proc. of ICSE 2007, Future of Soft. Eng. (FOSE ’07), pages 358-378, 2007.
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The Importance of Incremental Research

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Last year Bertrand Meyer authored a post titled Long Live Incremental Research! at BLOG@CACM. Rather then writing my own post on the topic, I instead want to encourage people to read Meyer’s post as I think he does a great job of summarizing the importance of approaching research incrementally and not aiming for the next great breakthrough. A few quotes from his post:

“First, 99.97% of all research (precise statistic derived from my own ground-breaking research, funding for its continuation would be welcome) is incremental. Second, when a “breakthrough” does happen — the remaining 0.03%  — it was often not planned as a breakthrough.”

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