Managing assumptions

The industrial experience paper my MSc student Ireo and I submitted to the ICSE workshop on Sharing and Reusing Architectural Knowledge was accepted! The reviewers asked us to clarify the scope of the assumption management approach we present (i.e. whether it’s confined to agile development and architectural knowledge) and to expand on the lessons learned from it. We will address this, but meanwhile you can read the submitted version.

I’m very pleased with Ireo’s efforts and with the strategy followed to get a publication out of his work. Our MSc students are all part-time and off-site (i.e. they don’t come to campus). Hence, it’s a bit difficult to get them to write a paper once the dissertation is submitted. They go through various intermediate assignments, which build up to the final dissertation submission in March. The last assignment consists of the last dissertation draft and of the first version of an extended abstract of the thesis. The word limit imposed on the abstract is rather constraining for a paper. Moreover, the abstract’s second and final version is submitted after the actual dissertation. Asking a student to then expand the abstract into a paper is therefore pointless, from their perspective, because the work is over and there is no academic incentive (e.g. a better grade) for them to write a paper.

The strategy we followed was to have Ireo send me versions of the extended abstract well before the last assignment, and gradually expand it into a paper. This helped him stengthen and streamline the narrative (context, method, results, conclusions) for his last dissertation draft. The deadlines of the workshop were also quite convenient, with the submission date two weeks after the last assignment, and the notification date well before the dissertation submission. In this way, the paper could benefit from what had been written for the last assignment, and the final dissertation and extended abstract can benefit from the reviewers’ comments. I like when everything falls into place!

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