The use of procedural roles in code inspections: An experimental study

  • Land L
  • Sauer C
  • Jeffery R
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Software inspections are important for finding defects in software products (Fagan, 1976; Gilb, 1993; Humphrey, 1995; Strauss and Ebenau, 1994). A typical inspection includes two stages: individual preparation followed by a group review with roles assigned to each reviewer. Research has shown that group tasks typically result in process loss (Lorge et al., 1958; Steiner, 1972). In software defect detection also, considerable defects found during individual preparation are subsequently not reported by the group (Porter and Votta, 1994; Porter et al., 1995, 1997; Land et al., 1997a, 1997b; Siy, 1996; Votta, 1993). Our objective is to study whether procedural roles (moderator, reader, recorder) affect group performance, particularly in terms of process loss. At the same time, the use of roles in software reviews has also not been empirically validated, although there are wide claims for their benefits. Procedural roles made a limited difference to group performance. Further analyses provide possible explanations for the results and a deeper understanding of how groups make their decisions based on individual reviewers' findings. Limitations of the research are discussed. We also suggest how procedural roles may greater impact group performance. © 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Defect detection
  • Procedural roles
  • Process loss
  • Review meeting
  • Software inspections

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  • Lesley Pek Wee Land

  • Chris Sauer

  • Ross Jeffery

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