The Dangerous Dogmas of Software Engineering

02/18/2018
by   Paul Ralph, et al.
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To legitimize itself as a scientific discipline, the software engineering academic community must let go of its non-empirical dogmas. A dogma is belief held regardless of evidence. This paper analyzes the nature and detrimental effects of four software engineering dogmas - 1) the belief that software has "requirements"; 2) the division of software engineering tasks into analysis, design, coding and testing; 3) the belief that software engineering is predominantly concerned with designing "software" systems; 4) the belief that software engineering follows methods effectively. Deconstructing these dogmas reveals that they each oversimplify and over-rationalize aspects of software engineering practice, which obscures underlying phenomena and misleads researchers and practitioners. Evidenced-based practice is analyzed as a means to expose and repudiate non-empirical dogmas. This analysis results in several novel recommendations for overcoming the practical challenges of evidence-based practice.

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