University of Oulu

Pertti Karhapää, Alireza Haghighatkhah, and Markku Oivo. 2017. What Do We Know about Alignment of Requirements Engineering and Software Testing?. In Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE'17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 354-363. DOI:

What do we know about alignment of requirements engineering and software testing?

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Author: Karhapää, Pertti1; Haghighatkhah, Alireza1; Oivo, Markku1
Organizations: 1Empirical Software Engineering in Software, Systems and Services (M3S) Research Unit, ITEE, University of Oulu . 2017. P.O.Box 8000 FI - 90014 University of Oulu
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Association for Computing Machinery, 2017
Publish Date: 2018-01-02


Context: The alignment of different software engineering activities for coordinated functioning and optimized product development is of great importance, particularly in industrial-scale development. The link between intermediate activities has been researched extensively, but the link between requirements engineering (RE) and software testing (ST) is a relatively less explored area.

Objective: The objective of this study is to aggregate, structure, and classify all existing research regarding alignment of RE and ST published by the end of 2015.

Method: We conducted a systematic mapping study (SMS) and aggregated all studies relevant to our scope. The primary studies are analyzed in terms of publication trend, focus area, i.e., how alignment is supported, the application domain and benefits and challenges, methodological data, and scientific rigor and industrial relevance.

Results: There is a growing interest towards the topic. Several different techniques have been identified to improve RE and ST alignment. Test generation from requirements specification has received most attention. Alignment of RE and ST is particularly important for large safety-critical domains. While many challenges have been reported, the supporting evidence for benefits is scarce. Frameworks/methods/techniques is the most frequent contribution type. Solution proposal and evaluation research were the most frequently applied research type. Case study research was the most frequently applied research method, however, almost half of the studies did not clearly report any research method.

Conclusion: Despite the numerous approaches that are proposed, it is not clear what approach is suitable in what context and why. To support industry in RE and ST alignment, guidelines and tool support are needed. The supporting evidence for claimed benefits is very limited. Overall, the research area is in its early stages and an increase in both the number and rigor of empirical studies are required.

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ISBN: 978-1-4503-4804-1
Pages: 354 - 363
DOI: 10.1145/3084226.3084265
Host publication: EASE'17, Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering . Karlskrona, Sweden. 15-16 June 2017
Conference: Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering
Type of Publication: A4 Article in conference proceedings
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Copyright information: © Association for Computing Machinery 2017. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive Version of Record was published in Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering (EASE'17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 354-363,