Research Paper

Pattern Discovery and Validation Using Scientific Research Methods

D. Riehle, N. Harutyunyan and A. Barcomb




Pattern discovery, the process of discovering previously unrecognized patterns, is often performed as an ad-hoc process with little resulting certainty in the quality of the proposed patterns. Pattern validation, the process of validating the accuracy of proposed patterns, remains dominated by the simple heuristic of ``the rule of three''. This article shows how to use established scientific research methods for the purpose of pattern discovery and validation. We present a specific approach, called the handbook method, that uses the qualitative survey, action research, and case study research for pattern discovery and evaluation, and we discuss the underlying principle of using scientific methods in general. We evaluate the handbook method using three exploratory studies and demonstrate its usefulness.


  title = {Pattern Discovery and Validation Using Scientific Research Methods},
  year = {2021},
  author = {Riehle, Dirk and Harutyunyan, Nikolay and Barcomb, Ann},
  journal = {Transactions on Pattern Languages of Programming},