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Case studies synthesis: a thematic, cross-case, and narrative synthesis worked example

Daniela S., Cruzes; Tore, Dybå; Runeson, Per LU and Höst, Martin LU (2015) In Empirical Software Engineering 20(6). p.1634-1665
Abstract
Case studies are largely used for investigating software engineering practices. They are characterized by their flexible nature, multiple forms of data collection, and are mostly informed by qualitative data. Synthesis of case studies is necessary to build a body of knowledge from individual cases. There are many methods for such synthesis, but they are yet not well explored in software engineering. The objective of this research is to demonstrate the similarities and differences of the results and conclusions when applying three different methods of synthesis, and to discuss the challenges of synthesizing evidence from reported case studies in SE. We describe a worked example of three such methods where three independent teams synthesized... (More)
Case studies are largely used for investigating software engineering practices. They are characterized by their flexible nature, multiple forms of data collection, and are mostly informed by qualitative data. Synthesis of case studies is necessary to build a body of knowledge from individual cases. There are many methods for such synthesis, but they are yet not well explored in software engineering. The objective of this research is to demonstrate the similarities and differences of the results and conclusions when applying three different methods of synthesis, and to discuss the challenges of synthesizing evidence from reported case studies in SE. We describe a worked example of three such methods where three independent teams synthesized two studies that investigated critical factors of trust in outsourced projects through thematic synthesis and cross-case analysis, and compared these to each other and also to an already published narrative synthesis. In addition, despite that the primary studies were well presented for synthesis, we identified challenges in the use of case studies synthesis methods related to the goals and research questions of the synthesis, the types and number of case studies, variations in context, limited access to raw data, and quality of the case studies. Thus, we recommend that the analysts should be aware of these challenges and try to account for them during the execution of the synthesis. We also recommend that analysts consider using more than one method of synthesis for sake of reliability of the results and conclusions. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Case studies, empirical software engineering, synthesis
in
Empirical Software Engineering
volume
20
issue
6
pages
1634 - 1665
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • wos:000363032900007
  • scopus:84944354231
ISSN
1573-7616
DOI
10.1007/s10664-014-9326-8
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ff9efd76-92ce-471d-b148-78226f9970a7 (old id 4586906)
date added to LUP
2014-08-14 10:35:22
date last changed
2017-09-03 03:00:25
@article{ff9efd76-92ce-471d-b148-78226f9970a7,
  abstract     = {Case studies are largely used for investigating software engineering practices. They are characterized by their flexible nature, multiple forms of data collection, and are mostly informed by qualitative data. Synthesis of case studies is necessary to build a body of knowledge from individual cases. There are many methods for such synthesis, but they are yet not well explored in software engineering. The objective of this research is to demonstrate the similarities and differences of the results and conclusions when applying three different methods of synthesis, and to discuss the challenges of synthesizing evidence from reported case studies in SE. We describe a worked example of three such methods where three independent teams synthesized two studies that investigated critical factors of trust in outsourced projects through thematic synthesis and cross-case analysis, and compared these to each other and also to an already published narrative synthesis. In addition, despite that the primary studies were well presented for synthesis, we identified challenges in the use of case studies synthesis methods related to the goals and research questions of the synthesis, the types and number of case studies, variations in context, limited access to raw data, and quality of the case studies. Thus, we recommend that the analysts should be aware of these challenges and try to account for them during the execution of the synthesis. We also recommend that analysts consider using more than one method of synthesis for sake of reliability of the results and conclusions.},
  author       = {Daniela S., Cruzes and Tore, Dybå and Runeson, Per and Höst, Martin},
  issn         = {1573-7616},
  keyword      = {Case studies,empirical software engineering,synthesis},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6},
  pages        = {1634--1665},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Empirical Software Engineering},
  title        = {Case studies synthesis: a thematic, cross-case, and narrative synthesis worked example},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10664-014-9326-8},
  volume       = {20},
  year         = {2015},
}