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Standards of validity and the validity of standards in behavioral software engineering research: The perspective of psychological test theory

Conference paper
Authors Lucas Gren
Published in International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement
ISBN 978-1-4503-5823-1
ISSN 1949-3770
Publisher ACM
Place of publication New York, NY, USA
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Computer Science and Engineering (GU)
Language en
Keywords Psychological test theory, Reliability, Software engineering, Validity
Subject categories Psychology, Software Engineering


Background. There are some publications in software engineering research that aim at guiding researchers in assessing validity threats to their studies. Still, many researchers fail to address many aspects of validity that are essential to quantitative research on human factors. Goal. This paper has the goal of triggering a change of mindset in what types of studies are the most valuable to the behavioral software engineering field, and also provide more details of what construct validity is. Method. The approach is based on psychological test theory and draws upon methods used in psychology in relation to construct validity. Results. In this paper, I suggest a different approach to validity threats than what is commonplace in behavioral software engineering research. Conclusions. While this paper focuses on behavioral software engineering, I believe other types of software engineering research might also benefit from an increased focus on construct validity.

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