Call for Registrations
Empirical Software Engineering Journal (EMSE), in conjunction with the conference on Mining Software Repositories (MSR), is continuing the RR track. The RR track of MSR 2024 has two goals: (1) to prevent HARKing (hypothesizing after the results are known) for empirical studies; (2) to provide early feedback to authors in their initial study design. For papers submitted to the RR track, methods and proposed analyses are reviewed prior to execution. Pre-registered studies follow a two-step process:
- Stage 1: A report is submitted that describes the planned study. The submitted report is evaluated by the reviewers of the RR track of MSR 2024. Authors of accepted pre-registered studies will be given the opportunity to present their work at MSR.
- Stage 2: Once a report has passed Phase 1, the study will be conducted and actual data collection and analysis take place. The results may also be negative! The full paper is submitted for review to EMSE.
The RR track of MSR 2024 supports two types of papers:
Confirmatory : The researcher has a fixed hypothesis (or several fixed hypotheses) and the objective of the study is to find out whether the hypothesis is supported by the facts/data.
An example of a completed confirmatory study:
- Inozemtseva, L., & Holmes, R. (2014, May). Coverage is not strongly correlated with test suite effectiveness. In Proceedings of the 36th international conference on software engineering (pp. 435-445).
Exploratory : The researcher does not have a hypothesis (or has one that may change during the study). Often, the objective of such a study is to understand what is observed and answer questions such as WHY, HOW, WHAT, WHO, or WHEN. We include in this category registrations for which the researcher has an initial proposed solution for an automated approach (e.g., a new deep-learning-based defect prediction approach) that serves as a starting point for his/her exploration to reach an effective solution.
Examples of completed exploratory studies:
- Gousios, G., Pinzger, M., & Deursen, A. V. (2014, May). An exploratory study of the pull-based software development model. In Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Software Engineering (pp. 345-355).
- Rodrigues, I. M., Aloise, D., Fernandes, E. R., & Dagenais, M. (2020, June). A Soft Alignment Model for Bug Deduplication. In Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories (pp. 43-53).
The reviewers will evaluate RR track submissions based on the following criteria:
- The importance of the research question(s).
- The logic, rationale, and plausibility of the proposed hypotheses.
- The soundness and feasibility of the methodology and analysis pipeline (including statistical power analysis where appropriate).
- (For confirmatory study) Whether the clarity and degree of methodological detail is sufficient to exactly replicate the proposed experimental procedures and analysis pipeline.
- (For confirmatory study) Whether the authors have pre-specified sufficient outcome-neutral tests for ensuring that the results obtained can test the stated hypotheses, including positive controls and quality checks.
- (For exploratory study, if applicable) The description of the data set that is the base for exploration.
The outcome of the RR report review is one of the following:
- In-Principal Acceptance (IPA): The reviewers agree that the study is relevant, the outcome of the study (whether confirmation / rejection of hypothesis) is of interest to the community, the protocol for data collection is sound, and that the analysis methods are adequate. The authors can engage in the actual study for Stage 2. If the protocol is adhered to (or deviations are thoroughly justified), the study is published. Of course, this being a journal submission, a revision of the submitted manuscript may be necessary. Reviewers will especially evaluate how precisely the protocol of the accepted pre-registered report is followed, or whether deviations are justified.
- Continuity Acceptance (CA): The reviewers agree that the study is relevant, that the (initial) methods appear to be appropriate. However, for exploratory studies, implementation details and post-experiment analyses or discussion (e.g., why the proposed automated approach does not work) may require follow-up checks. We’ll try our best to get the original reviewers. All PC members will be invited on the condition that they agree to review papers in both, Stage 1 and Stage 2. Four (4) PC members will review the Stage 1 submission, and three (3) will review the Stage 2 submission.
- Rejection The reviewers do not agree on the relevance of the study or are not convinced that the study design is sufficiently mature. Comments are provided to the authors to improve the study design before starting it.
Note : For MSR 2024, only confirmatory studies are granted an IPA. Exploratory study in software engineering often cannot be adequately assessed until after the study has been completed and the findings are elaborated and discussed in a full paper. For example, consider a study in an RR proposing defect prediction using a new deep learning architecture. This work falls under the exploratory category. It is difficult to offer IPA, as we do not know whether it is any better than a traditional approach based on e.g., decision trees. Negative results are welcome; however, it is important that the negative results paper goes beyond presenting “we tried and failed”, but rather provide interesting insights to readers, e.g., why the results are negative or what that means for further studies on this topic (following criteria of REplication and Negative Results (RENE) tracks, e.g., https://saner2023.must.edu.mo/negativerestrack). Furthermore, it is important to note that authors are required to document all deviations (if any) in a section of the paper.
The timeline for MSR 2024 RR track will be as follows:
Dec 8, 2023 : Authors submit their initial report. _Submissions must not exceed 6 pages (plus 1 additional page of references). The page limit is strict.
All authors should use the official “ACM Primary Article Template”, as can be obtained from the ACM Proceedings Template page. LaTeX users should use the sigconf option, as well as the review (to produce line numbers for easy reference by the reviewers). To that end, the following LaTeX code can be placed at the start of the LaTeX document:
Feb 2, 2024 : Authors receive PC members’ reviews.
Feb 16, 2024 : Authors submit a response letter + revised report in a single PDF.
- The response letter should address reviewer comments and questions.
- The response letter + revised report must not exceed 12 pages (plus 1 additional page of references).
- The response letter does not need to follow ACM formatting instructions.
Mar 8, 2024 : Notification of Stage 1
- (Outcome: in-principal acceptance, continuity acceptance, or rejection).
Mar 15, 2024 : Authors submit their accepted RR report to arXiv
- To be checked by PC members for Stage 2
- Note: Due to the timeline, RR reports will not be published in the MSR 2024 proceedings.
Before Dec 8, 2024 : Authors submit a full paper to EMSE. Instructions will be provided later. However, the following constraints will be enforced:
- Justifications need to be given to any change of authors. If the authors are added/removed or the author order is changed between the original Stage 1 and the EMSE submission, all authors will need to complete and sign a “Change of authorship request form”. The Editors in Chief of EMSE and chairs of the RR track reserve the right to deny author changes. If you anticipate any authorship changes please reach out to the chairs of the RR track as early as possible.
- PC members who reviewed an RR report in Stage 1 and their directly supervised students cannot be added as authors of the corresponding submission in Stage 2.
Submissions can be made via the submission site (https://msr2024-registered-report.hotcrp.com/) by the submission deadline. Any submission that does not comply with the aforementioned instructions and the mandatory information specified in the Author Guide is likely to be desk rejected. In addition, by submitting, the authors acknowledge that they are aware of and agree to be bound by the following policies:
- The ACM Policy and Procedures on Plagiarism and the IEEE Plagiarism FAQ. In particular, papers submitted to MSR 2024 must not have been published elsewhere and must not be under review or submitted for review elsewhere whilst under consideration for MSR 2024. Contravention of this concurrent submission policy will be deemed a serious breach of scientific ethics, and appropriate action will be taken in all such cases (including immediate rejection and reporting of the incident to ACM/IEEE). To check for double submission and plagiarism issues, the chairs reserve the right to (1) share the list of submissions with the PC Chairs of other conferences with overlapping review periods and (2) use external plagiarism detection software, under contract to the ACM or IEEE, to detect violations of these policies. The authorship policy of the ACM and the authorship policy of the IEEE.