582703 Methods for Software Engineering Research

Main Themes


Approaches learning objectives

Reaches learning objectives

Deepenes the objectives

Characteristics of good research,validity


Can explain the main concepts of research methodology. For example, can differentiate correlation from causality and explain the role and importance of validity in research.

Knows different classes of validity.

Can give examples of particular validity threats within SE context

Knows how to be sensibly critical in terms of validity.

Can differentiate between statistic and analytical generalisation. 

Can improve a study design to alleviate particular validity threats.

Can write an informative section “Threats to validity” to a research paper of one’s own research topic.

Can explain and argue for and against the distinguishing characteristics between validity classes.

Can explain and compare different definitions and classifications of validity.

Designing and conducting SE research

Basics of SE practice, processes and methods.


Knows the different components and phases of a research process / study design.

Can characterise SE research problems and their peculiarities from methodological perspective.

Can justify the role and importance of research questions in the research process and explain how they relate to hypotheses.

Can write research questions for a Master’s thesis (or initial for PhD).

Can evaluate a given research question and identify typical points for improvement.

Can evaluate a study design for its suitability for investigation of an SE problem, feasibility and match to the research questions.

Can explain the concept of context in SE research and give examples of contextual factors and how they affect the selection of research methods.

Can create a successful research plan for a PhD thesis of one’s own research topic.

Can create research questions suitable for peer-review process and scientific scrutiny.

Particular methods for SE research

Basics of SE practice, processes and methods.

Can explain characteristics of qualitative vs. quantitative and interpretivist vs. positivist approaches and give examples of research problems well suited for each in the context of SE.

Knows the basic research methods relevant for SE and their general characteristics.

Can compare different empirical research approaches suitable for SE.

Can select and justify a suitable research method for particular real world problem in SE (for Master’s thesis).

Knows how to and from where to search for additional advice to be used as sources for the methodological section of a MSc thesis.

Can create a study design for multi-method (mixed methods) SE research, justify the use of different methods and argue for the overall design.

Can outline a research plan for investigating an SE phenomenon utilising multiple methods.


23.02.2015 - 19:15 Tomi Männistö
28.10.2013 - 18:29 Hanna Mäenpää