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An internally replicated quasi-experimental comparison of checklist and perspective-based reading of code documents

: Laitenberger, O.; Emam, K. el; Harbich, T.


IEEE transactions on software engineering 27 (2001), Nr.5, S.387-421 : Ill., Lit.
ISSN: 0098-5589
Fraunhofer IESE ()
software inspection; perspective-based reading; quasi-experiment; replication; meta-analysis

The basic premise of software inspections is that they detect and remove defects before they propagate to subsequent development phases where their detection and correction cost escalates. To exploit their full potential, software inspections must call for a close and strict examination of the inspected artifact. For this, reading techniques for defect detection may be helpful since these techniques tell inspection participants what to look for and, more importantly, how to scrutinize a software artifact in a systematic manner. Recent research efforts investigated the benefits of scenario-based reading techniques. A major finding has been that these techniques help inspection teams find more defects than existing state-of-the-practice approaches, such as, ad-hoc or checklist-based reading (CBR). In this paper, we experimentally compare one scenario-based reading technique, namely, perspective-based reading (PBR), for defect detection in code documents with the more traditional CBR approach. The comparison was performed in a series of three studies, as a quasi experiment and two internal replications, with a total of 60 professional software developers at Bosch Telecom GmbH. Meta-analytic techniques were applied to analyze the data. Our results indicate that PBR is more effective than CBR (i. e., it resulted in inspection teams detecting more unique defects than CBR) and that the cost of defect detection using PBR is significantly lower than CBR. Therefore, this study provides evidence demonstrating the efficacy of PBR scenarios for code documents in an industrial setting.