Table of Contents
Advances in Software Engineering
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 468021, 9 pages
Review Article

Thematic Review and Analysis of Grounded Theory Application in Software Engineering

University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1N 6N5

Received 5 June 2013; Accepted 4 September 2013

Academic Editor: Phillip A. Laplante

Copyright © 2013 Omar Badreddin. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We present metacodes, a new concept to guide grounded theory (GT) research in software engineering. Metacodes are high level codes that can help software engineering researchers guide the data coding process. Metacodes are constructed in the course of analyzing software engineering papers that use grounded theory as a research methodology. We performed a high level analysis to discover common themes in such papers and discovered that GT had been applied primarily in three software engineering disciplines: agile development processes, geographically distributed software development, and requirements engineering. For each category, we collected and analyzed all grounded theory codes and created, following a GT analysis process, what we call metacodes that can be used to drive further theory building. This paper surveys the use of grounded theory in software engineering and presents an overview of successes and challenges of applying this research methodology.