Empirical research is quite difficult undertaking; doing empirical research becomes even more difficult when the studied objects are likely to be described at a higher level of abstract like software architecture. That is an obvious reasons that we don’t see much empirical research, even not very rigorous one, carried out to assess the effectiveness and efficiencies of the methods, techniques, and tools developed to support the software architecture process over the last 20 years. However, there is an increasing realization that anecdotal claims are not sufficient for making claims about the goodness of our research outputs; rather, we need to provide systematically gathered evidence rather than anecdotes or rhetoric to promote the use of a particular method or tool that purports to support any of the software engineering activity. Patricia, Arie, I decided to put together a special issue the topic of empirical research in software architecture: opportunities, challenges, and approaches. We approaches the empirical software engineering journal for this special issue. It is great feeling of satisfaction and pleasure that we have finalized the special issue with four high quality papers. There were several people involved in this process that lasted more than two years and we are greatly thankful to all of them. The articles included in the special issue are:
“A practice-Driven Systematic Review of Dependency Analysis Solutions” in which Trosky B. Callo Arias, Pieter van der Spek and Paris Avgeriou report a systematic literature review on dependency analysis solutions.
“From Monolithic to Component-based Performance Evaluation of Software Architectures—A Series of Experiments Analysing Accuracy and Effort” in which Anne Martens, Heiko Koziolek, Lutz Prechelt and Ralf Reussner report on a series of three experiments on architectural performance evaluation methods and the related applicability, level of accuracy, and effort spent.
“Assessing Architectural Evolution: a Case Study” in which Michel Wermelinger, Yijun Yu, Angela Lozano and Andrea Capiluppi take an historical perspective on the evolution of a large, well-known open source software project, the Eclipse SDK.
“Characteristics of Multiple-Component Defects and Architectural Hotspots: A Large System Case Study” in which Zude Li, Nazim H. Madhavji, Syed Shariyar Murtaza, Mechelle Gittens, Andriy V. Miranskyy, David Godwin and Enzo Cialini address the crucial problem of managing defects in large software systems.