What I learnt after reviewing 100 Software Engineering papers this year

First of all , the “I” in the post title is not me, it’s Richard Paige,  Professor of Enterprise Systems and (as of May 2015) Deputy Head of Department (Research) in the Department of Computer Science at the University of York. And besides all this, a very opinionated person that recently shared his thoughts on the state of software engineering research after spending plenty of hours this year reviewing around 100 papers for several Software Engineering conferences and journals.

To be clear, I’m just reposting here the tweets he wrote since they are public, I’m sure he won’t mind (though I haven’t asked :-) , I’ll do it a posteriori: “ask for forgiveness and not permission”) and I believe that his opinions are spot on and deserved to collected here.

Enter Richard:

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State of Research in Spain: 2000 researchers fighting for only 63 grants up to 40.000 EUR

Sometimes a few numbers go a long way to explain the deplorable status of research funding in a country, in this case, Spain (but unfortunately I’m pretty sure I could write the same for a few other ones).

Some time ago I applied for a grant from the “Fundación BBVA” offering grants to scientists and artists up to 40.000 euros. The amount itself is quite limited (you cannot even fund a full year of a postdoc with that) but given that I was starting a new group I thought it would be worth to start showing some activity by applying to this small funding opportunity.

Well, it turns out I didn’t get the funding (at least, this is what I can safely assume since they published the names of the winners and I wasn’t one of them, dear BBVA, a email with the notification, and possibly, some feedback would have been nice!!) but that’s not why I’m writing this post, I’m writing it because of the sheer number of applicants, over 1900 (according to them), which considering that only 63 grants were awarded, makes an acceptance rate of only 3.1%

Is the funding situation in Spain really so bad that almost 2000 researchers decided to “invest” their time in writing a research proposal for a 3% chance of getting barely 40000 euros? This sounds scary.

And this is not just bad news for the researchers themselves but for the country as a whole. Assuming a very conservative estimate that each researcher spent 25 hours in writing the research proposal (this includes only filling the proposal template documents, not coming up with the ideas themselves), we have that Spain wasted 47500 hours of researchers’ time on these.

In fact, if we take a typical hourly rate (including the time of the 3 senior researchers that had to write a reference letter for each applicant), we can easily see that Spain lost close to 2.5M euros with this, which is basically the same amount that was given to the 63 winners. This doesn’t sound like a good business to me.

Featured image by Jannes Pockele

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MetaScience v.2 – Now Analyzing the research profile of authors and conferences

Read about the new features of metaScience, an online service we released a couple of months ago to give some insights on conferences (see the original announcement here).

We have now released the new version of our service, which features new metrics for conferences and brand new support for authors, including some cool visualizations like co-author connections, showing a graph displaying the collaboration of authors in a conference series.  This is a screenshot of the visualization for MODELS conference (you can visit the website to interact with it).


Read the full description of this exciting new version of metaScience and let us know your thoughts!

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What being a PC Chair really feels like (by John Lennon)

Maybe it’s because the hypercriticality of our research area but if I had to summarize what I think it’s my main role as PC Chair, I´d say is the following:

John Lennon as a PC Chair

(if you don’t recognize the song the meme is paraphrasing, you’re too young to be doing research so get out of here! :-) )

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Explain me your research as if

Nice tweet by @AcademicsSay (a MUST twitter account to follow if you’re a researcher) summarizing in one sentence how to communicate your research work.

Explain your research to me as if I were a child. As if I have little knowledge of and absolutely no interest in your research.

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I’m now an ICREA Research Professor at IN3 (UOC)

This site has been so awfully quiet during the last two months that I even forget to announce here I was leaving my Inria / École des Mines de Nantes position and taking a new one as ICREA Research Professor at Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (research center of the UOC university). Some more details here.

In fact, I guess this is exactly the reason why I didn’t have time to be more active here :-). Promise more rants soon.

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WordPress research challenge – Show the world your research is relevant

Read my request for help to the members of the software reserach community to show to the huge community of WordPress users that our techniques/tools can actually be useful to improve any aspect of the WordPress project.

This is what I´ll try to “sell” in my upcoming talk on WordCamp Europe where my goal is to this little experiment of approaching our reserach work to a large community of practitioners and see if we can understand each other better.

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