What stakeholders will or won׳t say: A theoretical and empirical study of topic importance in Requirements Engineering elicitation interviews

We have a new paper out:

Corentin Burnay, Ivan J. Jureta, Stéphane Faulkner, What stakeholders will or won׳t say: A theoretical and empirical study of topic importance in Requirements Engineering elicitation interviews, Information Systems, Available online 2 June 2014, ISSN 0306-4379, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.is.2014.05.006.

Abstract: Interviewing stakeholders is a way to elicit information about requirements for a system-to-be. A difficulty when preparing such elicitation interviews is to select the topics to discuss, so as to avoid missing important information. Stakeholders may spontaneously share information on some topics, but remain silent on others, unless asked explicitly. We propose the Elicitation Topic Map (ETM) to help engineers in preparing interviews. ETM is a diagram showing topics that may be discussed during interviews, and shows how likely stakeholders discuss each of these topics spontaneously. If a topic is less likely to be discussed spontaneously, then this suggests that engineers may want to prepare questions on it, before the interview. ETM was produced through theoretical and empirical research. The theoretical part consisted of identifying topic sets based on a conceptual model of communication context, grounded in philosophy, artificial intelligence, and computer science. The empirical part involved interviews with Requirements Engineering professionals to identify the topic sets and topics in each set, surveys of business people in order to evaluate how likely they would spontaneously share information about topics, and evaluations of how likely students would share information about each topic, when asked about requirements for social network websites.

Keywords: Requirements Engineering; Elicitation; Interview; Context; Topic Map; Quantitative study; Social network

Published by

Ivan Jureta

I hold the Senior Researcher (Chercheur qualifié) position with the Belgian national research fund (Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique – FNRS, Brussels) and am Associate Professor with the Department of Business Administration, University of Namur. My principal research interest is in method engineering and method automation, focusing on the elicitation, modeling and analysis of knowledge that human experts apply in problem solving and decision making, the engineering of ontologies and processes capturing that knowledge, and the automation of the said processes. This interest falls within the various research fields concerned with the transfer, preservation and automation of knowledge. I am the author of “Analysis and Design of Advice” (Springer, 2011) and have published over 50 research papers on these topics within the fields of requirements engineering, business analysis, and conceptual modeling of information systems. I organize and chair the series of International Workshops on Modeling and Reasoning for Business Intelligence (MORE-BI), held in Brussels in 2011 and Florence in 2012. I serve on scientific committees of the IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE), the International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering (CAiSE), and the International Conference on Conceptual Modeling (ER). In parallel, I am / have been involved with several startups at CxO level and have held lead roles in Product Design for web and digital services that today serve more than 500.000 people every day.