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    Experiences Using Systematic Review Guidelines

    10th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE)

    Keele University, UK, 10 - 11 April 2006 (with a Postgraduate Workshop on the 12th).


    Mark Staples & Mahmood Niazi


    A systematic review is a defined and methodical way to identify, assess and analyse published primary studies in order to investigate a specific research question. Kitchenham has recently published guidelines for software engineering researchers performing systematic reviews.

    The objective of our paper is to critique Kitchenham's guidelines and to comment on systematic review generally with respect to our experiences conducting our first systematic review.

    Our perspective as neophytes may be particularly illuminating for other software engineering researchers who are also considering conducting their first systematic review. Overall we can recommend Kitchenham's guidelines to other researchers considering systematic reviews.

    We caution researchers to clearly and narrowly define the research questions they will investigate by systematic review, to reduce the overall effort and to improve the quality of the selection of papers and extraction of data.

    In particular we recommend defining complementary research questions that are not within the scope of the systematic review in order to clarify the boundaries of the specific research question of interest. An instance of this recommendation is that researchers should clearly define the unit of study for the systematic review.


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