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Roel Wieringa: Action research in software engineering - what’s in it for our industrial partners?

Invited Speaker: Prof. Dr. Roel J. Wieringa, University of Twente The Netherlands

Abstract: Software engineering research consists of developing new techniques for software engineering, and of empirically investigating the use of new or old techniques in practice. One problem for developers of new techniques is that few practitioners are willing to take the risk to use new techniques that have not been proven in practice. But validation in practice can only be done by using the techniques in practice.  For a newly developed technique, only the technique developer is able to use it. Technical Action Research (TAR) is a research method in which a researcher uses a new technique developed by him- or herself in practice to help a client solve a real-world problem. For the client this is free consultancy, for the researcher it is a real-world validation. In this talk I will present the logical structure of TAR and compare it with related research methods such as observational case research and field experiments. I will give a number of examples of TAR and discuss what researchers and clients can and cannot expect from it. Finally, I will discuss how generalizations from TAR use analogical reasoning in which the architecture and mechanisms operative in the TAR project are compared with the architecture and mechanisms of the target of generalization.

CV: Roel Wieringa is Chair of Information Systems at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. His research interests include requirements engineering, conceptual modelling, and research methodology for software engineering and the design sciences. He has written two books, Requirements Engineering: Frameworks for Understanding (Wiley, 1996) and Design Methods for Reactive Systems: Yourdon, Statemate and the UML (Morgan Kaufmann, 2003. He has been Associate Editor in Chief of IEEE Software for the area of requirements engineering from 2004 to 2007. He serves on the board of editors of the Requirements Engineering Journal and of the Journal of Software and Systems Modeling.

 Roel Wieringa has been head of the Computer Science Department of the UT since 2009 and from 2006 to 2011 he has been scientific director of the School for Information and Knowledge Systems (SIKS,, that provides advanced education to all Dutch Ph.D. students in information and knowledge systems. Find more information at