Google Research

Bridging the Gap: From Research to Practical Advice

  • Ciera Jaspan
  • Claire Le Goues
  • Ipek Ozkaya
  • Kathryn T. Stolee
  • Mary Shaw
IEEE Software (2018)


Software engineers must solve practical problems under deadline pressure. They rely on the best-codified knowledge available, turning to less-rigorous results and their expert judgement when sound science is unavailable. Meanwhile, software engineering researchers seek fully validated results. Yet, translation of those research results to practical guidance lags. To bridge this gap, research results should be systematically distilled into actionable guidance in a way that respects differences in rigor and scope among the results. Starting with the practitioners’ need for actionable guidance, we review the evolution of software engineering research expectations, identify types of results and their strengths, and draw on evidence-based medicine for a concrete example of deriving pragmatic guidance from mixed-strength research results. We advance a framework to allow researchers to clearly identify the strengths of the claims and the supporting evidence of their results and to work with practitioners to synthesize various types of evidence into actionable recommendations.

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