(Updated August 7th to include David Weiss’ slides)
Here are the slides from the four participants of our “What Industry Wants from Research” ICSE 2011 panel that gave us their permission to share them.
By all indications this was a useful, popular, and thought provoking panel, and I’m glad it turned out the way it did. A few notes about it. First, our perceptions that software development research and practice are disconnected, and that this is a bad thing, were shared and unchallenged across the board. There seem to be a lot of people that are concerned by this problem and that want to do something about it.
Second, the panel naturally turned into a conversation about what can researchers do to overcome this problem. On this there were many good pointers, but I found Peri Tarr’s perspective most enlightening: connecting research and practice is not just a matter of sharing research results or of listening to practitioners to understand their problems, it is about building trust in the research-practice partnership. This is especially true (though she did not say this) in a field like ours, where trust is so badly damaged. But she also pointed out that given the way our academic system is set up, following through with this advice may hurt a researcher’s academic career prospects.
Third, if we were to do this again, the one thing I would change is that I would try to make sure to have some more organizational diversity; to represent the open source perspective, for instance, or scientific software development. During the panel, “software industry” drifted somewhat into “software business,” which is fortunately still not quite the right characterization of software practice out there.
Fourth, a few calls for better measurements and quantitative data arose from the panel, just as they did from our interviews. For those of us convinced of the inadequacy of plain numbers to account for some of the subtleties of software development on their own, there is a serious question here: how can we overcome this epistemological barrier?