Research Opportunities (Masters and PhD)

Positions listed are for a thesis-based masters of electrical and computer engineering with a specialization in software engineering (MSc) as part of the Schulich school of Engineering graduate program (2 years), or for a doctor of philosophy (PhD) (4 years). All positions are offered with a stipend, but but additional funding is usually desired. Please refer to the university links for more information about the program, or about applying as an international student.

Applying

For all positions, please first refer to the admissions requirements at the Schulich School of Engineering (University of Calgary). While it is not necessary to complete an application before expressing interest in a position, I am unable to accept applicants who do not meet the university's requirements. To express interest in a position, please contact me at my university email address. Please specify: 1. which position you are interested in, 2. your earliest possible start date, 3. a brief statement about what interests you about the research topic, and 4. include a CV.

If you are not applying for a specific posted position, but wish to express interest about possible future openings, I recommend sending a letter of intent. A good letter of intent will mention my research areas which interest you, and explain how your previous work aligns with the topic(s). I receive many emails expressing general intent, but the majority of them appear to be mass emails (spam) because they focus on the accomplishments of the author (usually quite unrelated to my research topics) and are very general about my research (using titles of papers, rather than displaying any understanding of the topic). I will always try to answer genuine emails, so invest a little time to ensure that your email is perceived as intended.

Current Openings

Effects of community manager interventions on management of episodic participants in a health-oriented open source projects

Masters, as soon as possible

Free/libre/open source software communities have long been interested in techniques for managing contributors and their contributions effectively, as evidenced by such manuals as Fogel’s Producing Open Source Software (2005) and Jono Bacon’s The Art of Community (2012). To date, the majority of advice and research as focused on long-term and core contributors. Recent scholarship has shown that episodic, or periphery, contributors can also benefit communities in a number of ways, and that, additionally, communities may need to adapt to take full advantage of this resource.

The purpose of this research is to understand what actions community managers took to manage the influx of episodic participants during a period of rapid growth at the onset of the corona crisis.

To learn more about this research, it is recommended that you read a study identifying best practices for managing episodic contributors and the related appendix.

Evaluation of existing volunteering capabilities of a free/libre/open source software project

Masters, as soon as possible

Free/libre/open source software communities have long been interested in techniques for managing contributors and their contributions effectively, as evidenced by such manuals as Fogel’s Producing Open Source Software (2005) and Jono Bacon’s The Art of Community (2012). However, before a community can effectively changes its approach to volunteer management, it is necessary to evaluate the current capabilities and the desired outcomes, and identify the steps the community should take to move from the current state to the desired state.

The purpose of this research is to develop an understanding of the baseline of current volunteer participation and desired outcomes, in a specific free/libre/open source software community. The work will enable subsequent research on the effect of the application of volunteer management techniques. There is the potential for the student to continue into a PhD position for the follow-up work (depending on available funding and quality of work).

To learn more about this research, it is recommended that you read a survey on episodic retention and the related appendix, and a study on the state of episodic participation in free/libre/open source software communities.

Improving the consistency of qualitative data analysis to support software engineering researchers

PhD, fall 2021 (application deadline: 5 December, 2020)

The systematic analysis of textual data through qualitative data analysis (QDA) is used by researchers addressing questions involving real world phenomena in context. The technique has also been proposed for industry applications, where consistency, completeness and traceability of the analysis are required. However, because QDA is designed to thoroughly explore the problem under consideration, it results in an unwieldy number of concepts. This means that analysts must adopt a number of techniques to ensure consistency, which are time consuming and may still fail to ensure consistency within a single analysis, or between group members working on the same analysis. Consistency and time cost both severely limit adoption of QDA.

Software engineering researchers have explored extending computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) by using machine learning to propose annotations or categories for later analysis, based on initial analysis. However, none of these approaches has gone beyond the domain of software engineering, or achieved results which would lead to adoption of the technique. The PhD candidate pursuing this research will tackle the problem of within group and individual consistency.

Please refer to earlier prototype work to gain a better understanding of the research.