Understanding Social Debt in Software Engineering

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University of Alabama Libraries

Context: Social debt describes the accumulation of costs to software projects resulting from community smells, i.e., suboptimal working environment conditions. The study of social debt is recent in the software engineering context. Thus, there is a need for a standard reference on this problem and learning how to manage it. Objective: The goal of this article-style dissertation is to offer a comprehensive and common body of knowledge on social debt and community smells in software engineering. Method: To reach the main goal, this dissertation consist of a systematic mapping study, a systematic literature review, a survey-based empirical study, and a theoretical study. Results: The results include inventories of relevant studies on social debt and community smells, educational material on social debt and community smells for software engineering professionals, and Community Smell Stages Framework that explains the origin and evolution of community smells. We also identified the impact of community smells on software development teams' performance by studying the connection between community smells and teamwork. Furthermore, we developed a survey-based framework to validate the community smells affecting cooperation in practice and generated useful visualization approaches. We also produced a set of hypotheses about the community smells and how their effects represent potential ethical violations in work environments. Conclusion: Social debt and community smells have the potential for becoming the sources of prolific human-centric research in software engineering. There is a need for more real-world empirical research to validate the findings reported in this dissertation and generalize the results.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Code of Ethics, Community smells, Social debt, Software development teams, Software engineering, Teamwork and team performance