PPIG 2003 - 15th Annual Workshop
Some parallels between empirical software engineering and research in human-computer interaction
Judith Segal
Abstract: Both empirical software engineering and human-computer interaction (HCI) are applied sciences: studies conducted within these disciplines are futile unless they enhance, either directly or indirectly, the practice of software engineering in the former case, and computer support for human endeavours in the latter. The main thesis of this paper is that there should be improved communication between the two disciplines. We argue that a major current concern of researchers in empirical software engineering – that empirical studies do not sufficiently inform practice – and the current emphasis on studies following a traditional scientific experimental design, is very similar to the major concern and methodological emphasis of HCI in the late 1980s/early 1990s. HCI researchers responded to this concern by borrowing tools and techniques from other disciplines, as is currently being advocated by some in the world of empirical software engineering. Although this response has not been unequivocally successful in its aim of closing the gap between studies and practice, we believe that researchers in empirical software engineering might benefit from reflecting on the HCI experience.