An undiscovered discipline

While googling for a good edition of Menard’s “Quixote”, I found a bunch of obscure research publications dealing with studies of Software-Engineering-Research Engineering –that is, these people study those of us who, in turn, study software engineering. It’s fascinating to find that we ourselves are the subject of investigation of a particular niche. Here I reproduce some particularly interesting abstracts of papers from this community (full versions behind a paywall):

The Software Engineering Academic Crisis (And What It Means for Your Research Group)
by Larry Beams

Stendish’s recently published CATASTROPHE report offers a sobering view of the state of software engineering academics practice: Only a measly 12% of software engineering research projects are successful. In this paper we offer a breakdown of failure causes –from negative empirical results to changes in research goals.

We also argue that if software-engineering-research engineering is to become a true engineering discipline, it needs to start adopting the processes, tools, and practices of the other engineering fields. We finish with a roadmap of research in the area.

IEEEE Notes on Software Engineering Research 3(7), July 1984

Formalized Formats for Research Results: The Case for LatinLOVER
by Zach Zohlin et al.

To mitigate the current software academic crisis, we revisit the use of Latin in academia and argue for its adoption in software engineering research. We discuss the well-known advantages of Latin –clear semantics, backwards compatibility, and widespread recognition as a respectable language– and show their superiority over the mess of semantics and ambiguity that rules current standards (e.g. English). To overcome the lack of Latin words to express modern mathematical and computing concepts, we present a new version of the language, LatinLOVER (“Latin Lexicon Of Vital Extensions for Research”), which covers all the terms the software engineering community needs. We demonstrate the use of LatinLOVER with a case study of a summer intern’s weekly report.

Transactions on Software Academics 14(2), April 1999

Towards a Model Driven Research Utopia
by James Booth

Practitioners of every engineering discipline uses graphical visualizations to represent their concepts. Of every discipline, that is, but ours. Software engineering researchers keep presenting their results as a mixture of text, tables, and figures. We present the beginnings of a framework for model-driven research (MDR) that allows for the modelling of software engineering research ideas so that papers can be modelled, instead of written –having the text automatically generated with the click of a button.

Since a picture is worth 10,000 words, we anxiously look forward to the day software engineering papers become a one-page diagram, and we believe this is an important step in that direction.

Proceedings of the Automatized Software Engineering Research Conference, 2002

ReGurgItATE: A Tool for Improving the Word Count of Software Engineering Papers
by Sey Eed Oghane

As the CATASTROPHE report points out, the current output of software engineering research stands on a poor average of just 1.4 lines of text (LOTs) per dollar spent on research. We present a tool, ReGurgItATE, that finds argumentation patterns in its input and elaborates on them, producing more convoluted text. Its built-in thesaurus also substitutes commonly used words by their lengthier and more obscure equivalents. In repeated case studies, ReGurgItATE has proven to increase LOT output by at least 3.1 LOTs per dollar, and the academic respectability of its users by 16%.

Demo presented at the International Software Engineering Research Conference’s Poster Session, Palermo, Italy, 2005

About Jorge Aranda

I'm currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the SEGAL and CHISEL labs in the Department of Computer Science of the University of Victoria.
This entry was posted in Academia, Hype, Software development. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to An undiscovered discipline

  1. Neil says:

    I thought you were going somewhere else with the “LatinLOVER” reference… 🙂

  2. mcyclops says:

    LatinLover? ReGurgItATE? I guess researches researching researches have too much free time to think creatively.

  3. Jorge says:

    Well we have names just as silly, or more, in Software Engineering!

  4. Lorin says:

    It hope that Larry Beams cited the previous work by Robert Glass:

    Glass, R.L., “The software-research crisis,” Software, IEEE , vol.11, no.6, pp.42-47, Nov 1994

    Abstract: With the advantage of more than 25 years’ hindsight, this twenty-first century author looks askance at the “crisis” in software practice and expresses deep concern for a crisis in software research.

  5. Jorge says:

    What a perfectly well timed reference, Lorin. Thanks!

  6. Chris says:

    This is a joke, right? The ReGurgItATE paper sounds like some kind of sick joke designed to make E.B. White’s head explode.

  7. Jorge says:

    No no, these papers are the real thing! *wink wink*

    ReGurgItATE in particular has been widely adopted by software engineering researchers.

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