Hearing the Voice of Software Practitioners on Causes, Effects, and Practices to Deal with Documentation Debt

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 12045)


[Context and Motivation] It is common for teams to take shortcuts during software development that, in the future, will lead to maintainability issues and affect productivity and development cost. Different types of technical debt may affect software projects, including those associated with software documentation. Although there are many studies on technical debt, few focus on documentation debt in an industrial environment. [Question/Problem] We aimed to identify how software practitioners perceive the occurrence of documentation debt in their projects. We present a combined analysis of the results from two complementary studies: a survey (InsighTD) and an interview-based case study. [Principal Ideas/Results] We provide a list of causes and effects of documentation debt, along with practices that can be used to deal with it during software development projects. [Contribution] We find that documentation debt is strongly related to requirements issues. Moreover, we propose a theoretical framework, which provides a comprehensive depiction of the documentation debt phenomenon.


Documentation debt Causes of documentation debt Effects of documentation debt Technical debt InsighTD 



This work was partially supported by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel - Brazil (Capes), under the Capes/IIASA Sandwich Doctoral Program, process nº 88881.189667/2018-01. This research was also supported in part by funds received from the David A. Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, which was created by the Laureate International Universities network to support research focused on teaching and learning. For more information on the award or Laureate, please visit


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal University of BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  2. 2.Federal University of the State of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.University of Los AndesBogotaColombia
  4. 4.University Francisco de Paula SantanderCúcutaColombia
  5. 5.Univ. Técnica Federico Santa MaríaValparaísoChile
  6. 6.University of Maryland Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA
  7. 7.Montana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  8. 8.Salvador UniversitySalvadorBrazil

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