The Use of Grounded Theory in Empirical Software Engineering
Empirical software engineering research has much in common with social science research (e.g. Cognitive Science, Psychology). Both types of research focus on understanding how people behave and react in different situations. An important research method for developing hypotheses and insight that is commonly used in these other fields is grounded theory. The basic principle behind grounded theory is that the hypotheses and theories emerge bottom-up from the data rather than top-down from existing theory. Using this approach, a researcher begins with an existing data set and abstracts a hypothesis or a theory that accurately describes that data. Then, as more data sets become available, the hypotheses and theories are refined so that they continue to accurately describe all of the extant data.