Topics and treatments in global software engineering research - a systematic snapshot
This study presents an analysis of the most recent literature addressing global software engineering (GSE). The primary purpose is to understand what issues are being addressed and how research is being carried out in GSE – and comparatively, what work is not being conducted. We examine the current state of GSE research using a new Systematic Snapshot Mapping (SSM) technique. We analysed 275 papers published between January 2011 and June 2012 in peer-reviewed conferences, journals and workshops. Our results provide a coarse-grained overview of the very recent literature addressing GSE, by classifying studies into predefined categories. We also follow and extend several prior classifications to support our synthesis of the data. Our results reveal that, currently, GSE studies are focused on Management and Infrastructure related factors rather than Human or Distance related factors, using principally evaluative research approaches. Most of the studies are conducted at the organizational level, mainly using methods such as interviews, surveys, field studies and case studies. We use inter-country network analysis to confirm that the USA and India are major players in GSE, with USA-India collaborations being the most frequently studied, followed by USA-China. Specific groups of countries have dominated the reported GSE project locations (and the locations of research authors). In contrast, regions including Central Asia, South Asia (except India), Africa and South East Asia have not been covered in these studies. While a considerable number of GSE-related studies have been published they are currently quite narrowly focused on exploratory research and explanatory theories. The critical research paradigm has been untouched, perhaps due to a lack of criteria and principles for carrying out such research in GSE. An absence of formulative research, experimentation and simulation, and a comparative focus on evaluative approaches, all suggest that existing tools, methods and approaches from related fields are being tested in the GSE context. However, these solutions may not scale to cover GSE-related issues or may overlook factors/facets specific to GSE.