Investigating the Use of a Hybrid Search Strategy for Systematic Reviews. In Proceedings of the 11th ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement, ESEM 2017, Toronto, Canada, pages = , year = 2017, url = , doi = , .
abstract   bibtex   
[Background] Systematic Literature Reviews (SLRs) are one of the important pillars when employing an evidence-based paradigm in Software Engineering. To date most SLRs have been conducted using a search strategy involving several digital libraries. However, significant issues have been reported for digital libraries and applying such search strategy requires substantial effort. On the other hand, snowballing has recently arisen as a potentially more efficient alternative or complementary solution. Nevertheless, it requires a relevant seed set of papers. [Aims] This paper proposes and evaluates a hybrid search strategy combining searching in a specific digital library (Scopus) with backward and forward snowballing. [Method] The proposed hybrid strategy was applied to two previously published SLRs that adopted database searches. We investigate whether it is able to retrieve the same included papers with lower effort in terms of the number of analysed papers. The two selected SLRs relate respectively to elicitation techniques (not confined to Software Engineering (SE)) and to a specific SE topic on cost estimation. [Results] Our results provide preliminary support for the proposed hybrid search strategy as being suitable for SLRs investigating a specific research topic within the SE domain. Furthermore, it helps overcoming existing issues with using digital libraries in SE. [Conclusions] The hybrid search strategy provides competitive results, similar to using several digital libraries. However, further investigation is needed to evaluate the hybrid search strategy.

Downloads: 0