Towards a Global Research Infrastructure for Multidisciplinary Study of Free/Open Source Software Development
The Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) research community is growing across and within multiple disciplines. This community faces a new and unusual situation. The traditional difficulties of gathering enough empirical data have been replaced by issues of dealing with enormous amounts of freely available public data from many disparate sources (online discussion forums, source code directories, bug reports, OSS Web portals, etc.). Consequently, these data are being discovered, gathered, analyzed, and used to support multidisciplinary research. However at present, no means exist for assembling these data under common access points and frameworks for comparative, longitudinal, and collaborative research across disciplines. Gathering and maintaining large F/OSS data collections reliably and making them usable present several research challenges. For example, current projects usually rely on direct access to, and mining of raw data from groups that generate it, and both of these methods require unique effort for each new corpus, or even for updating existing corpora. In this paper, we identify several needs and critical factors in F/OSS empirical research across disciplines, and suggest recommendations for design of a global research infrastructure for multi-disciplinary research into F/OSS development.