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Date: Fri, 27 Mar 2009 07:07:24 +0100
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From: Volker Wulf <[log in to unmask]>
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Call for Papers - Information and Software Technology (IST)

Special Issue on

Studying Work Practices in Global Software Engineering

Submission Desdline: June 15th, 2009

Guest editors:
- Gabriela Avram, Interaction Design Centre, University of Limerick, Ireland
- Volker Wulf, University of Siegen and Fraunhofer Institute for Applied
Information Technology, Germany

Background and rationale
Software development is increasingly distributed across geographical,
political, social, and cultural boundaries. Enterprises that wish to
take advantage of globalization require innovative techniques, tools,
and practices to overcome the various difficulties of organizing and
managing globally distributed software development.
The field of Global Software Engineering (GSE) or Global Software
Development (GSD), as it is sometimes called, has emerged as a
transdisciplinary research arena bringing together software engineers
as well as social scientists and organization theorists involved in
examining various aspects of how globally distributed software teams
function. However, while many experimental studies on problem-solving
in teams have been performed, as well as interview studies with
management referring to problems in distributed coordination and
management, extensive participative field study material on actual
workplace practices is relatively meagre. Thus, despite of occasional
empirical studies of distributed software development activities over
the years there is still a dearth of well-designed studies in
Information Systems, Software Engineering and CSCW that provide good
examples of field research in the area.

Goals and objective
The purpose of this special issue is to examine practices of global
software engineering and to reflect upon the strengths and limitations
of empirical research methods being deployed in the field. Methods are
not simply techniques to be chosen and deployed at will, but are
constructed from particular conceptual worldviews, and entail
theoretical commitments. Actual use of methods also requires training
and sensitivity to the local situation. These issues are often not
adequately dealt with before the researcher enters the field.

In order to illustrate this topic in a concrete fashion, we are
soliciting papers from researchers who are actively engaged in
empirical studies of GSE and wish to reflect on their empirical
findings in relation to the methods applied. We are interested in
field studies of actual in situ practices of software engineers.

Potential topics for the papers (but not limited to these!) are:

* The strengths and limitations of particular empirical methods;
* The variety of ways in which methods can be used in practice,
grounded in specific GSE case studies;
* Studying  the same topic in different environments;
* Gaining access to GSD field sites;
* Gaining access to digital artefacts; particular issues with gaining
access to source code;
* Approaches that go beyond a one-sided local view;
* Methods and tools for disentangling complex work trajectories and
situating artefacts;
* Methods for a quick familiarization with the context: participation
in social events, regular meetings, recruiting informants;
* Different roles the researcher could adopt;
* Dealing with micro-political conflicts in the field;
* Dealing with different languages and cultural issues;
* Roles of consultants vs. researchers: to what extent and in what
circumstances is a consulting role acceptable/desirable?
* Opportunities for engaging in a shared commitment with the
practitioners in order to identify potentials for change and conjoint
learning (e.g. concept of "business ethnography");
* Shortcomings and benefits of exploratory and evolutionary research
designs compared to more statistical approaches with predefined
hypotheses (i.e., why is it important for the GSD community to take
into account this kind of research instead of doing experiments and
* Using student groups as proxies in GSE studies.

Submission information
Authors are invited to submit papers on their field study research,
providing an account of the rationale for the choice of research
method(s) being used, showing how these relate to the research
questions being examined, and interesting findings attained by using
the method.

Papers should conform to the IST Elsevier format and be submitted as PDF

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