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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Chapter 5. Learning Through Application: The Maturing of the QIP in the SEL

Victor R. Basili

Empirical studies—formal research that uses respected, validated methods for establishing the truth of an assertion—have started to make headway within software engineering. The good news is that these studies have finally become recognized as an important component of the discipline. One sees more and more empirical studies and experiments in the literature to confirm or reject the effectiveness of some method, technique, or tool.

The bad news is that these studies are not yet used for discovery. The experiment is an add-on, tried after the concept is considered complete. The scientific method, however, is classically based on applying a method, technique, or tool and learning from the results how to evolve the concept. This is how theories are tested and evolved over time. In the software engineering discipline, where the theories and models are still in the formative stages and processes are applied by humans as part of a creative process, observing the application or performing exploratory studies should be an important step in the evolution of the discipline.

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