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Being Researched

Yes, the PhD student again…

I’ve been reading this forum for 7 weeks now and I am very much engaged with it.  To summarise, I am doing a PhD in Software Development from the point of view of management/business.  I started some conversations last month with very interesting and helpful replies.
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=144731&ixReplies=12
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=147094&ixReplies=9
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=150306&ixReplies=21

I do thank all of you who shared your opinions with me.

I have been lurking this and other forums to update myself with the current and fashionable issues in the development world.  I believe that all the material posted provides a good opportunity for research. 

As my PhD is within the social sciences I am focusing on people’s opinions on issues- I.e. software development.  From the discussions here, what I am trying to do is gathering some information that I would like to reflect on in my thesis.  It is not only the replies to my posts that I would like to use but maybe information from other threads in which I don’t participate.

I would like to ask you all and Joel if there is any impediment to do so, including your own opinions.  I do not intend to make direct reference to any of you.  If so, I will ask you first. I do this as I think it is ethical to do so.
What do you think?

Cecilia Loureiro-Koechlin
c.loureiro-koechlin@mgt.hull.ac.uk

Cecilia Loureiro
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

You want to refer to posts written on this message board but you don't want to credit the authors with the posts?  Is this actually an academic project?

Kalani
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Kalani,

Yes, it is an academic project. A PhD project to be precise.

Maybe my post wasn’t that clear. 

My thesis will contain the analysis and conclusions of discussions.  It will classify and summarise topics. However, I would probably need to quote some of you.

I am happy to credit the authors of the posts provided the authors do not have any objections and give me permission to do so.

Cecilia Loureiro
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Seems to me you should go ahead... if you want to quote someone, and they've left an email address to follow, ask them.  If they left no email address, treat it as an anonymous quote.  Done and done.

Greg Hurlman
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I agree with Greg.  As far as I know, there's no legal/ethical reason to have to ask either.  I've always treated information available on the public Internet just like a work you'd find at the library (the MLA even has a 'formal' way to reference Internet resources).

Please let us know about your work when you've finished it too.  It'd be interesting to read.

Kalani
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

thank you for your comments and for your support. :)

Cecilia

Cecilia Loureiro
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Cecilia, I'm kinda curious, as you seem to have it backwards - whether or not to *quote* someone's post on the 'net without permission may be debatable, but I'm curious about an academic institution where a PhD student thinks *citing* a quote used is optional?

Are there really a lot of theses that say "then this other guy said 'Managers should follow before they try to lead' and someone else replied 'not necessarily'..." ?

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Even if the thesis doesn't quote people, if you make some kind of conclusion based on data culled from this site then you ought to cite the site (so that others can validate your conclusions).  But I'm sure you're aware of that kind of thing.  It's obvious even for trivial undergrad papers.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Ceclia, have you contacted your University ethics officer on this one?

I ask merely because in Australia you would need ethics clearance before going "into the wild" and there would be guidelines in place on these sorts of things.

(OTOH, you might have already done this, and if so, I apologise)

Les C
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

What was the hypothesis of the work? Did you get any observational/experimental results and which conclusions have you drawn?

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Thanks very much for your comments.

Mr. Philo, yes, citing is a common practice, especially in the social sciences. You may cite someone to support or justify a conclusion.

Mr. Blank, yes I am going to acknowledge JoS… as the source of the quotes and the articles posted (which I think are excellent quality)

Mr. Les C.,  in social sciences ethical issues are sometimes as important as the outcomes of research.  If the research is not conducted ethically it may be subject to criticism by supervisors and examiners and may be invalidated.  For this reasons PhD students take some modules on philosophy and ethics.

In my case, I think I am taking a risk as online research is a new practice… methodologically as well as ethically, so I have to do it carefully…  however this will also give my work more originality and in my opinion more reliability… as I believe online forums and the internet in general are valid places to approach software developers. (Instead of, for example, going to a software house and interviewing IT people, don’t you agree?)… I think the internet gives me the opportunity to talk to more people from different backgrounds and levels of experience.

Mr. Just Me (Sir to you) … I don’t have a hypothesis. That works more for quantitative research (where for example you can test assumptions in a lab).  I have chosen to do qualitative research based on online observations… that is, online discussions with software developers… what I have defined is a problem situation (based on work experience) and a theoretical framework which at the moment is a bit wide but I will narrow it down with my participation in your forum.  I am not trying to validate my framework but refine it with your discussions.

I am really glad you welcome my participation in this forum
thanks again

Cecilia

Cecilia Loureiro
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

What makes you think there are any real software developers here? :-)

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

maybe it is the name of the forum: Joel on SOFTWARE that might appeal to developers…
or the content, there is very interesting stuff discussed here

Cecilia Loureiro
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

What aspect of software development are you most interested in for this project?  Maybe we could point you to the most applicable web-log, if this one isn't it.

Kalani
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Generally you do not need to ask permission to quote published work (under guidelines of fair use, of course). In fact, there is the concept that you *should not* ask permission, because doing so weakens the concept of fair use.

And a board like this might well be considered published work, in a public forum.

mb
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

There is a lot of debate on this issue.  Some people like you would say that information on the web might be considered as published material whereas others would consider the same material as private (especially information in discussion forums... especially those where you have to sign in...).  I am just trying be on the safe side by asking for permission.

Cecilia Loureiro
Thursday, July 08, 2004

Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, write theories.

--
Thursday, July 08, 2004

Kalani,

I am studying software development for difficult, complex and ill-defined business environments.  For example… situations where it is difficult to specify requirements…, situations where you have a big number of potential users who need to be consulted and who will use the system, but who have very different opinions about it… or situations that change rapidly (nowadays this is getting more common)… As organisations and their processes change and adapt to their environments so must the software (so how do we deal better with changes? during development and after). At the moment my hypothetical scenario is that of multi-organisations containing processes that need decision making, workflow, knowledge management, etc.  I am also assuming that the software must adapt (or evolve) to changes in those processes; this doesn’t mean changes in requirements but conditions for flexibility in applications so users are not trapped in them.  I would probably have to change these assumptions (If they are not realistic (who would buy a system like that??!!)) but that will depend on the feedback from online discussions.

Reading this forum I have found some topics which would be helpful… like: development methodologies: waterfall, agile methodologies (XP, Scrum, etc), components, UML, distributed/centralised systems, abstraction layers, abstration/productivity/innovation, remote software work, but also discussions about how’s your everyday life as developers, what you believe will be the future of development (btw I enjoyed a lot the API war related threads)…and stuff like that.  :)))

Cecilia Loureiro
Friday, July 09, 2004

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