Call for Research Method Track Contributions


The Call for Papers can be downloaded here.


Track Co-Chairs

Oscar Dieste - Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain

Barbara Paech - Heidelberg University, Germany


Important Dates

  • Paper Submission: Oct 3, 2015
  • Interaction Submission: Jan 24, 2016

  • Conference: March 14-17, 2016


Humans are essential in requirements engineering. There is a long tradition of empirical human subjects research in the sciences. Therefore, empirical methods are very important for requirements engineering research. Over the years, REFSQ has developed a tradition of discussing research methods and its methodological assumptions. The Research Method track invites submissions that enrich and advance such discourse with a particular emphasis on method application in requirements engineering research.

While commonly accepted guidelines for simple experiments and case studies exist, there is still much debate on how to conduct other forms of empirical research: complex experiments, longitudinal studies, mixed designs, etc. There is considerable uncertainty about how to justify, design and plan a research project, and how to ensure relevance, generalizability and applicability to industry. For example, what is the best approach to assess the state-of-art, identify the best-suited empirical approaches, generalize from individual results and transfer the technology to industry?

The REFSQ Research Method Track provides a forum for discussing current and exploring new ideas on these challenges. Furthermore, the track offers two ways to learn about research methods: (1) discussion of research methods or of specific research designs with the community experts and (2) presentation, execution, and evaluation of research studies with the REFSQ participants. Participants will benefit from understanding the nature, key aspects, and benefits of research methods that are important for the requirements engineering community.

We define research methods broadly, including research designs, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, literature review methods, and mixed research methods. Of particular interest to REFSQ’16 are papers which review the premises and practice of a research method or technique in order to understand how it can be properly applied to studying requirements engineering related phenomena. We welcome also studies that provide novel perspectives on, and examples of, methods to analyze contemporary requirements engineering application areas such as software ecosystems, big data and analytics, social media and online communities, to name a few. Finally, the track is interested in papers which focus on the adoption or adaptation of methods and theories used in other disciplines such as health sciences, sociology, psychology, and engineering.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Research method selection in requirements engineering, e.g. when performing research in industry, what are the preferred empirical methods depending on the context and restrictions? How can we secure participation of the company staff?
  • Research method combination in requirements engineering, e.g. in the context of a large European project: Which implications do the combination of the work of different groups have for sampling, testing and inference?
  • Research method improvement in requirements engineering, e.g. how can we assess and improve the quality of practices such as data collection and data analysis and methods such as literature reviews? How can we compare method application in requirements engineering?
  • Innovation in research methods for requirements engineering, e.g. what sorts of questions are left unanswered by our research methods? How does our concentration on the production and codification of research methods deflect our attention from the desired ends for Requirements Engineering research?
  • Data handling in requirements engineering, e.g. what are the methodological and ethical considerations for big data and the creation, sharing and reuse of large datasets from data available in the public domain, e.g. when analyzing app reviews?

Types of Submission

In its second edition the REFSQ Research Method Track becomes part of the main program and LNCS proceedings.

The REFSQ’16 Research Method Track calls for two types of papers (to be published in the LNCS proceedings):


  • Research method papers that discuss methodological aspects of how to do empirical research of good quality or
  • Lessons learned reports that describe an empirical study in requirements engineering and a new research method and show that the new research method really worked and/or discuss problems encountered while applying the new method.


The Research Method Track calls also for different interaction contributions (not published):


  • Research method mini-tutorials: the tutorial should introduce the participants into state-of-art, examples, pitfalls, and success factors of a given research method. The tutorial should cover when to use the method, how to do it well, how to tackle the threats to validity that are associated with the method, and how to report the results.
  • Plans for research studies: the paper should describe the design and plan of a research study. Any type of study of relevance for requirements engineering is welcome, including empirical and theoretical studies. Preference will be given to studies that are performed in cooperation with industry. Especially PhD students are encouraged to submit papers in this category.
  • Live studies: a controlled experiment or survey, requiring no more than 90 minutes in total that involves all REFSQ participants in a plenary session. The number of potential respondents may be close to 80-100 (approximately 75% academia and 25% industry). Only one study will be selected. The authors will offer a short introduction to the research design and offer a draft analysis of the study outcomes in the plenary session at the end of the conference.

Submission Guidelines

We encourage submissions from industry and academia (including senior researchers and students). For the papers the usual REFSQ submission guidelines apply. All other submissions are limited to 4 pages in LNCS format. Proposals for live studies and plans for research studies have to adhere to the templates given below.

Formatting and Submission

Papers should be submitted in PDF format. The results described must be unpublished and must not be under review elsewhere. Submissions must conform to Springer’s LNCS format and must no exceed the page limits mentioned above.


Information about the Springer LNCS format can be found at

Papers should be submitted using EasyChair at:



Template for research studies plans

  • the title of the case study
  • Research problem
  • Research goal, including the technical goal(problem exploration, technology evaluation in practice, validation of new technology) and relevance for research and/or for practice
  • Research questions, possibly including the hypothesis,
  • Population of interest (i.e. target of generalization)
  • Relevant background knowledge: Previous research, relevant theories.
  • Research design
  • Description of possible cases. What should the ideal case look like and how are you going to find one? What if the acquired case is less than ideal?
  • A detailed description of the intended measurement (data collection) procedures. Direct observation, interviews, questionnaires, collection of logged data, databases, etc.,
  • Measurement instruments to be designed: interview protocols, questionnaire design, log analysis, database queries, video recorders, etc.
  • Inference
    • Description of intended procedures to interpret symbolic data (interviews, images, text, etc.). Discussion of validity of these procedures.
    • Description of your expectations (if any) about what you will observe and why this would happen.
    • Description of intended generalizations. Why would this be potentially generalizable to a larger class of cases?
  • Evaluation of ethical aspects: Informed consent, Confidentiality & privacy, fair treatment of subjects, absence of harm to subjects.

Template for live studies

  • the title of the proposal,
  • Research problem
  • Research goal, motivation of relevance for research and/or for practice
  • Research questions, possibly including the hypothesis,
  • Population of interest (i.e. target of generalization)
  • Research design
  • the type of study (experiment or online questionnaire),
  • For an experimental study: a detailed description of the intended experimental treatment
  • For an experimental study: a detailed description of the intended measurement (data collection) procedures
  • For an online questionnaire: a detailed description of how the intended questionnaire will be designed
  • the benefits to the subjects of participating in the study, including incentives,
  • a description or profile of the intended subjects: prerequisites for being a subject, such as experience, background, etc.,
  • Inference: A detailed description of how you are going to analyze the data
  • a short discussion of the threats to validity that might originate from the constraints of performing the study at REFSQ,
  • Evaluation of ethical aspects: Informed consent, Confidentiality & privacy, fair treatment of subjects, absence of harm to subjects.
  • the name, organization, and contact details of proposal submitters,
  • a record of past empirical studies performed so far by the submitters,
  • role of the proposed study in a generic research plan (e.g., it is expected to confirm some theory, to explore some emergent research topic, …),
  • how you plan to make publicity of your study if it is selected, and how do you plan to attract respondents to your study during the conference,
  • equipment and infrastructure needed for performing the experiment: PCs, software, flipcharts, Internet, etc.

A link to a complete description of the protocol, although not mandatory, is highly recommended.

Program Committee

Dan Berry - University of Waterloo, Canada
Travis Breaux - Carnegie Mellon University, USA
David Callele - University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Jörg Dörr - Fraunhofer IESE, Germany
Tony Gorschek - Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden
Andrea Herrmann - Herrmann & Ehrlich, Germany
Marjo Kauppinen - Aalto University, Finland
Daniel Mendez - TU München, Germany
Anna Perini - Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Italy
Kai Petersen - Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden
Rosilawati Razalim - Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia
Björn Regnell - University of Lund, Sweden