Deciding on the research question (RQ) is likely the most important choice that a researcher
makes, as it is a decision on what deserves scientific investigation. Yet, this scenario is not new in Software Engineering. In Agile methodologies, engineers also face the development without fully knowing the requirements. Like software engineers when facing blurred requirements, researchers might not be familiar enough with the problem in the early phases of the research to properly scope what they are going to investigate. Similitudes with Agile are fourfold.
1. First, Agile resorts to stakeholders to keep the development team focused on the solution’s intended goals. Likewise, the literature plays the role of the stakeholders in keeping the focus on the aspects that are essential (vs. accidental) of the RQ.
2. Second, Agile development advances iteratively and gradually through sprints. Likewise, coming up with a RQ is not a one-shot activity but the RQ unveils as new or refined insights emerge.
3. Third, Agile aims at an early and continuous delivery of working software. Likewise, RQ Scoping aims at producing successive versions of the RQs that “work”, i.e., that promote reflection and analysis through Comparative Thinking.
4. Fourth, Agile is not about tools, but tools were key for Agile to become mainstream (e.g., Jira). Smooth adoption of RQ Scoping also rests on the existence of tools that support iterative and long-lasting reviewing sprints.
Besides performance, tools bring transparency (the quality of being done in an open way) and traceability (the quality of having an origin that may be found or followed), both factors especially welcome in a scenario characterized by testing (is my RQ relevant?) and adjustment (how can I make my RQ relevant?).If the literature resides in Reference Management System (RMS) such as Mendeley or Zotero, then it is just natural that this Agile process takes place in the RMS. The talk introduces FRAMEndeley, a extension for MENDELEY for researchers to FRAme and elaborate their RQ as they read the literature. FRAMEndely enjoy over 500 users and it is available for download at the Chrome’s Web.