How the FLOSS Research Community Uses Email Archives

How the FLOSS Research Community Uses Email Archives

Megan Squire (Department of Computing Sciences, Elon University, Elon, NC, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/jossp.2012010103
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Abstract

Artifacts of the software development process, such as source code or emails between developers, are a frequent object of study in empirical software engineering literature. One of the hallmarks of free, libre, and open source software (FLOSS) projects is that the artifacts of the development process are publicly-accessible and therefore easily collected and studied. Thus, there is a long history in the FLOSS research community of using these artifacts to gain understanding about the phenomenon of open source software, which could then be compared to studies of software engineering more generally. This paper looks specifically at how the FLOSS research community has used email artifacts from free and open source projects. It provides a classification of the relevant literature using a publicly-available online repository of papers about FLOSS development using email. The outcome of this paper is to provide a broad overview for the software engineering and FLOSS research communities of how other researchers have used FLOSS email message artifacts in their work.
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Motivation

In this paper we examine the literature to determine how emails are used by researchers who study FLOSS. Such a survey does not yet exist for either the software engineering community or the FLOSS research community. Researchers can use this survey to get a handle on the current state of the art in using email archives for FLOSS analysis. For example, questions researchers might ask would be:

  • Who has used Method X or Project Y in a study already?

  • What techniques have already been used, and what were the results? Can I cross-apply these to Project Y or refine their results by adding Method X?

  • Are there any studies that would be interesting to replicate?

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