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When Software Engineers Met Research Scientists: A Case Study


This paper describes a case study of software engineers developing a library of software components for a group of research scientists, using a traditional, staged, document-led methodology. The case study reveals two problems with the use of the methodology. The first is that it demands an upfront articulation of requirements, whereas the scientists had experience, and hence expectations, of emergent requirements; the second is that the project documentation does not suffice to construct a shared understanding. Reflecting on our case study, we discuss whether combining agile elements with a traditional methodology might have alleviated these problems. We then argue that the rich picture painted by the case study, and the reflections on methodology that it inspires, has a relevance that reaches beyond the original context of the study.

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Correspondence to Judith Segal.

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Segal, J. When Software Engineers Met Research Scientists: A Case Study. Empir Software Eng 10, 517–536 (2005).

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  • Case study
  • software engineers
  • scientific software
  • agile methodologies
  • tailoring methodologies