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EMSE UVic 2020

Department of Computer Science - University of Victoria

Videos from some of our lectures are available on the YouTube Empirical Software Engineering Banter Playlist

Podcasts are available here

Empirical software engineering is a research area concerned with the study of software engineering processes and artifacts, with the goal to understand and improve software engineering tools, processes, culture and software quality. This topic is of relevance to researchers, practitioners and the users of software systems. This course will prepare students for advanced research in industrial and academic settings by examining how to plan, conduct and report on empirical investigations of software engineering phenomena. The course will cover techniques applicable to each of the steps of an empirical software engineering research project, including formulating and identifying relevant research questions, data analysis (using both qualitative and quantitative methods), building evidence, developing new and refining existing theories, assessing validity and novelty of the research methods and outcomes, and publishing and presenting findings to different audiences. The course will emphasize research methods that are used to study human interactions with software engineering methods and tools: controlled experiments, user studies, field studies, surveys, archival data analysis methods, action research and ethnographies. We will explore, understand and critique the methods used in several examples of studies of software engineering methodologies and tools used in industry, and through academic peer reviewed articles published in empirical software engineering venues.

The first part of the course will be more lecture based, establishing some foundations in the topics taught and explored in this course. The second part of the course will be workshop based, with guest speakers and ample activities to drill into specific topics more deeply. The workshops will be on the following topics: code assessment techniques, knowledge sharing and collaboration, continuous software engineering, diversity and inclusion in software engineering, software engineering productivity, and ethics and reliability of empirical research in software engineering.

See course requirements for more details.

Classes will be on Fridays 1:30-4:20 online (via Zoom -- see Connex for the link to Zoom, invitation to Slack, and the Wordpress blog.)

Date Meeting Topic and Materials Guests Deliverable
1 11/09/2020 Course Introduction and
History of Software Engineering
2 18/09/2020 Introduction to Empirical Software Engineering, Beliefs and Evidence, and Design Science Group Activity
3 25/09/2020 Research Methods for SE Group Activity
4 02/10/2020 Theories, Theoretical Frameworks and Conceptual Frameworks in Software Engineering Research Group Activity
5 09/10/2020 Literature reviews for Software Engineering Research, Work on Project #1 Project #1 started
6 16/10/2020 Workshop #1: Continuous Software Engineering Blogpost #1
7 23/10/2020 Workshop #2: Code Review and Assessment Blogpost #2
8 30/10/2020 Workshop #3: Diversity and Inclusion in Software Engineering
  • Andrew Begel, Microsoft Research and Paige Rodeghero, Clemson University
  • Alexander Serebrenik, Eindhoven University of Technology [Video] [Audio]
  • Emerson Murphy-Hill, Google Research
  • Anita Sarma, Oregon State University
Blogpost #3
9 06/11/2020 Alignment for Project #1
  • Neil Ernst, UVic
Project #1 due
10 13/11/2020 Workshop #4: Collaboration, Communication and Knowledge Flow in Software Engineering Blogpost #4
11 20/11/2020 Workshop #5: Developer and Team Productivity
  • Tom Zimmermann, Microsoft Research[Video] [Audio]
  • Jenna Butler, Microsoft[Video] [Audio]
  • Courtney Miller, New College of Florida
  • Ciera Jaspan, Google
Blogpost #5
12 27/11/2020 Workshop #6: Bridging Gaps Blogpost #6
13 04/12/2020 Project #2 presentations Project #2, videos due
14 11/12/2020 No class Project #2, final reports due


See the resources for each lecture in the schedule above for an extensive list of assigned materials and optional references. The following are some general books related to this topic (these are also available through the UVic library when you are logged in):

Teaching Staff:

Office Hour: By appointment and Thursdays 2-3pm via Zoom drop in (use the Class link). Please direct message me on Slack (or email me) to set up a meeting.

Contact email:


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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