Socio-Technical Grounded Theory for Software Engineering

Grounded Theory (GT), a method designed to study social phenomena, is increasingly being used to investigate human and social aspects of software engineering (SE). However, being written by and for sociologists, GT is often challenging for a majority of SE researchers to understand and apply.

Additionally, SE researchers attempting ad hoc adaptations of traditional GT guidelines for modern socio-technical (ST) contexts struggle in the absence of clear and relevant guidelines, resulting in poor quality studies.

To overcome these research community challenges and leverage modern research opportunities, our research provides Socio-Technical Grounded Theory (STGT) designed to ease application and achieve quality outcomes.

It defines what exactly is meant by an ST research context and presents the STGT guidelines that expand GTs philosophical foundations, provide increased clarity and flexibility in its methodological steps and procedures, define possible scope and contexts of application, encourage frequent reporting of diverse interim, preliminary and mature outcomes, and introduce nuanced evaluation guidelines for different outcomes.

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