When to Update Systematic Literature Reviews in Software Engineering

04/13/2020
by   Emilia Mendes, et al.
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[Context] Systematic Literature Reviews (SLRs) have been adopted by the Software Engineering (SE) community for approximately 15 years to provide meaningful summaries of evidence on several topics. Many of these SLRs are now potentially outdated, and there are no systematic proposals on when to update SLRs in SE. [Objective] The goal of this paper is to provide recommendations on when to update SLRs in SE. [Method] We evaluated, using a three-step approach, a third-party decision framework (3PDF) employed in other fields, to decide whether SLRs need updating. First, we conducted a literature review of SLR updates in SE and contacted the authors to obtain their feedback relating to the usefulness of the 3PDF within the context of SLR updates in SE. Second, we used these authors feedback to see whether the framework needed any adaptation; none was suggested. Third, we applied the 3PDF to the SLR updates identified in our literature review. [Results] The 3PDF showed that 14 of the 20 SLRs did not need updating. This supports the use of a decision support mechanism (such as the 3PDF) to help the SE community decide when to update SLRs. [Conclusions] We put forward that the 3PDF should be adopted by the SE community to keep relevant evidence up to date and to avoid wasting effort with unnecessary updates.

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