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Writing Good Software Engineering Research Papers



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Writing Good Software Engineering Research Papers Minitutorial Mary Shaw Carnegie Mellon University mary shaw cs cmu edu Abstract Software engineering researchers solve problems of several different kinds To do so they produce several different kinds of results and they should develop appropriate evidence to validate these results They often report their research in conference papers I analyzed the abstracts of research papers submitted to ICSE 2002 in order to identify the types of research reported in the submitted and accepted papers and I observed the program committee discussions about which papers to accept This report presents the research paradigms of the papers common concerns of the program committee and statistics on success rates This information should help researchers design better research projects and write papers that present their results to best advantage Keywords research design research paradigms validation software profession technical writing 1 Introduction In software engineering research papers are customary vehicles for reporting results to the research community In a research paper the author explains to an interested reader what he or she accomplished and how the author accomplished it and why the reader should care A good research paper should answer a number of questions What precisely was your contribution What question did you answer Why should the reader care What larger question does this address What is your new result What new knowledge have you contributed that the reader can use elsewhere What previous work yours or someone else s do you build on What do you provide a superior alternative to How is your result different from and better than this prior work What precisely and in detail is your new result Why should the reader believe your result What standard should be used to evaluate your claim What concrete evidence shows that your result satisfies your claim If you answer these questions clearly you ll probably communicate



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