University of Oulu

Garousi, V., Pfahl, D., Fernandes, J.M. et al. Empir Software Eng (2019) 24: 2540.

Characterizing industry-academia collaborations in software engineering : evidence from 101 projects

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Author: Garousi, Vahid1; Pfahl, Dietmar2,3; Fernandes, João M.4;
Organizations: 1Information Technology Group,Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands
2Institute of Computer Science, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
3Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
4Department Informatics / ALGORITMI Centre, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
5University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
6Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden
7M3S, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8ABB Corporate Research, Raleigh, NC, USA
9Kristiania University College, Oslo, Norway
10Computer Engineering Department, Ataturk University, Erzurum, Turkey
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-15


Research collaboration between industry and academia supports improvement and innovation in industry and helps ensure the industrial relevance of academic research. However, many researchers and practitioners in the community believe that the level of joint industry-academia collaboration (IAC) projects in Software Engineering (SE) research is relatively low, creating a barrier between research and practice. The goal of the empirical study reported in this paper is to explore and characterize the state of IAC with respect to industrial needs, developed solutions, impacts of the projects and also a set of challenges, patterns and anti-patterns identified by a recent Systematic Literature Review (SLR) study. To address the above goal, we conducted an opinion survey among researchers and practitioners with respect to their experience in IAC. Our dataset includes 101 data points from IAC projects conducted in 21 different countries. Our findings include: (1) the most popular topics of the IAC projects, in the dataset, are: software testing, quality, process, and project managements; (2) over 90% of IAC projects result in at least one publication; (3) almost 50% of IACs are initiated by industry, busting the myth that industry tends to avoid IACs; and (4) 61% of the IAC projects report having a positive impact on their industrial context, while 31% report no noticeable impacts or were “not sure”. To improve this situation, we present evidence-based recommendations to increase the success of IAC projects, such as the importance of testing pilot solutions before using them in industry. This study aims to contribute to the body of evidence in the area of IAC, and benefit researchers and practitioners. Using the data and evidence presented in this paper, they can conduct more successful IAC projects in SE by being aware of the challenges and how to overcome them, by applying best practices (patterns), and by preventing anti-patterns.

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Series: Empirical software engineering
ISSN: 1382-3256
ISSN-E: 1573-7616
ISSN-L: 1382-3256
Volume: 24
Issue: 4
Pages: 2540 - 2602
DOI: 10.1007/s10664-019-09711-y
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: João M. Fernandes was supported by FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) within the Project Scope UID/CEC/00319/2013. Dietmar Pfahl was supported by the institutional research grant IUT20-55 of the Estonian Research Council. Andrea Arcuri was supported by the Research Council of Norway (grant agreement No 274385). Mika Mäntylä was partially supported by Academy of Finland grant and ITEA3 / TEKES grant.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.