AuthorsJ. S. Molléri, K. Petersen, and E. Mendes
TitleTowards understanding the relation between citations and research quality in software engineering studies
AfilliationSoftware Engineering
Project(s)Department of IT Management
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
Pagination1453 - 1478
Date PublishedJan-12-2018
Publisher Springer
KeywordsConditional inference tree, empirical software engineering, Exploratory study, Reporting of research, Research practice, Scientific impact

The importance of achieving high quality in research practice has been highlighted in different disciplines. At the same time, citations are utilized to measure the impact of academic researchers and institutions. One open question is whether the quality in the reporting of research is related to scientific impact, which would be desired. In this exploratory study we aim to: (1) Investigate how consistently a scoring rubric for rigor and relevance has been used to assess research quality of software engineering studies; (2) Explore the relationship between rigor, relevance and citation count. Through backward snowball sampling we identified 718 primary studies assessed through the scoring rubric. We utilized cluster analysis and conditional inference tree to explore the relationship between quality in the reporting of research (represented by rigor and relevance) and scientiometrics (represented by normalized citations). The results show that only rigor is related to studies’ normalized citations. Besides that, confounding factors are likely to influence the number of citations. The results also suggest that the scoring rubric is not applied the same way by all studies, and one of the likely reasons is because it was found to be too abstract and in need to be further refined. Our findings could be used as a basis to further understand the relation between the quality in the reporting of research and scientific impact, and foster new discussions on how to fairly acknowledge studies for performing well with respect to the emphasized research quality. Furthermore, we highlighted the need to further improve the scoring rubric.

Citation Key27074