Qualitative Research in Software Engineering

Call for Articles

Qualitative Research in Software Engineering

Special Issue of the Journal of Software Engineering Research and Development (JSERD)


Traditionally, when doing empirical research, the SE community has followed the same approach as natural sciences, which meant choosing quantitative methods seeking to predict what will happen if conditions are one way or another. Nowadays, however, the complexity of software engineering, whose products can have social, economic, political, and even psychological consequences that are yet poorly understood, predictive research naturally requires that researchers begin by investigating meanings and exploring problem spaces in real-world situations. Therefore, qualitative approaches to empirical research, which typically investigates meaningful characteristics of specifically situated phenomena, has been an increasingly attractive methodological alternative in software engineering, as well.

However, when a software engineering researcher decides to start using qualitative approaches, this researcher will face an issue: the lack of detailed examples of proper qualitative research in the SE field. Even though there is a vast literature about qualitative methods, this literature is not focused on software engineering. Some articles discuss the specifics of particular approaches. Nevertheless, there are few examples describing how qualitative methods were applied, or why the authors chose a qualitative approach.    

This special issue, Qualitative Research in SE 2020, is intended to provide the software engineering community with a collection of current, high-quality research articles that show valuable examples of qualitative research. In addition to the research results, the article should explain how the qualitative research was conducted, as well as the rationale for choosing a qualitative approach in light of potential quantitative alternatives.

In this special issue, we welcome two types of submissions. The first submission type is novel articles describing and discussing qualitative research regarding software engineering topics. These submissions need to be original manuscripts that have not been previously published and are also not under consideration for publication elsewhere. For the second type, we encourage submissions of extended work (previously published papers in conferences) involving qualitative research, where an extension should constitute at least a 30% original contribution. For the latter type, the extensions should describe the qualitative methods in detail.

Given the wide range of issues faced by qualitative research in software engineering, the suggested topics of interest reflect this breadth. The topics include but are not limited to articles describing qualitative data collection and analysis regarding:

  •  Agent-based software development
  • Agile methods and practices
  •  Architecture, design, frameworks, APIs, product lines, and middleware
  •  Artificial intelligence for software engineering
  • Component-based software engineering
  • Crowdsourcing software development
  • End-user software engineering
  • Experimental software engineering
  • Green and sustainable software technologies
  • Knowledge-based software engineering
  • Methods of software analysis and design
  • Mining software repositories
  • Model-driven software engineering
  • Modeling and enactment of software processes, rigorous and agile
  • Recommendation systems
  • Requirements engineering
  • Search-based software engineering
  • Social and ethical aspects of software engineering
  • Software analysis, synthesis and debugging
  • Software dependability
  • Software economics, software, and process metrics
  • Software engineering and big data
  • Software engineering for artificial intelligence systems
  • Software engineering supported by multi and hypermedia
  • Software maintenance, evolution, reverse engineering and re-engineering
  • Software modularity
  • Software project management
  • Software quality
  • Software reuse
  • Software safety, security, privacy, and risks
  • Software testing
  • Software verification, validation, and inspection
  • Tools and software engineering environments

All submissions will undergo a single-blind peer-review process. 

If you are submitting an extended version of an already published conference paper, you must submit supplementary material including a cover letter describing the additional contributions presented as well as the original work published (e.g., conference paper). 

Important Dates

Submission: October 30th, 2020 (firm)

First Notification: January 29th, 2021

Revision due: March 29th, 2021

Submission Process

Please submit your articles to:

https://sol.sbc.org.br/journals/index.php/jserd/about/submissionswhere you can find general instructions that you should follow. In addition, please include:

Qualitative Research in Software Engineering

as the name of the special issue in the “Comments for the Editor” field.

Guest Editors

Tayana Conte
Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM), Brazil

Clarisse Sieckenius de Souza
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Brazil 

David Redmiles
University of California – Irvine (UCI), USA