Modelling software engineering research with RSML

Year of Publication
18th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering, EASE 14, London, England, United Kingdom, May 13-14, 2014
Background. In order to understand research on a particular computing topic, practitioners and researchers often need to obtain an overview of its research methods. Current research methods coding schemes either capture insufficient details to support a full critical assessment, or are specialised to a particular research type. Aim. This paper defines and demonstrates RSML, a Research Schema Modelling Language that captures a high level of detail and is applicable to most types of computing research. Method. RSML was designed using concepts from the research methods literature, then refined inductively. An RSML editor was created to assist coders and help reduce coding errors. To demonstrate the feasibility of modelling research with RSML, and to exemplify the summary information that can be derived from a database of RSML encodings, a trial review of 24 articles from one journal was conducted. Results. The review illustrates quantitatively the journal s focus on artifact construction and empiricism. It also reveals that observations are rarely used to inform artifact construction, and purely empirical studies are scarce. Conclusion. RSML can be used to model sophisticated, multifaceted research spanning a wide range of software engineering topics, yielding insights that are not easily captured by current coding schemes.