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A tailored participatory action research for foss communities


Participatory Action Research (PAR) is an established method to implement change in organizations. However, it cannot be applied in the open source (FOSS) communities, without adaptation to their particularities, especially to the specific control mechanisms developed in FOSS. FOSS communities are self-managed, and rely on consensus to reach decisions. This study proposes a PAR framework specifically tailored to FOSS communities. We successfully applied the framework to implement a set of quality assurance interventions in the Robot Operating System community. The framework we proposed is composed of three components, interventions design, democratization, and execution. We believe that this process will work for other FOSS communities too. We have learned that changing a particular aspect of a FOSS community is arduous. To achieve success the change must rally the community around it for support and attract motivated volunteers to implement the interventions.

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This work is supported by the EU’s H2020 research and innovation programme, grant No 732287 ROSIN. We thank the volunteers for their work in the implementation of interventions. We thank the ROS quality assurance working group members for their ongoing inputs, advice and participation in the process.

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Correspondence to Adam Alami.

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Communicated by: Jon Whittle

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Alami, A., Nielsen, P.A. & Wa̧sowski, A. A tailored participatory action research for foss communities. Empir Software Eng 25, 3639–3670 (2020).

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  • Participatory Action Research
  • FOSS
  • Change implementation