R. Rabiser, K. Schmid, M. Becker, G. Botterweck, M. Galster, I. Groher, D. Weyns: A Study and Comparison of Industrial vs. Academic Software Product Line Research Published at SPLC, 22nd International Systems and Software Product Line Conference (SPLC 2018), Gothenburg, Sweden, September 10-14, accepted for publication.
It is sometimes argued that software product line research has been changing over the last decades and that the works in industry and academia have diverged over time. The study presented in this paper aims to provide evidence for whether or not there is a gap between industry and academic research and if this gap has increased over time. We analysed a subset (140) of all (593) papers published at all instances of the Software Product Line Conference (SPLC), the premier venue for publishing product line research. The subset was randomly selected to cover all years as well as types of papers (e.g., research and industry papers). We assessed the research type of the papers (academic or industry), the kind of evaluation (application example, empirical, descriptive, etc.), and the application domain. Also, we assessed which product line life-cycle phases and development practices the papers focus on and what topics they address. We present an analysis of the topics covered by academic vs. industry research and discuss the evolution of these topics and their relation over the years. We also discuss the implications of our results for academic researchers and industry practitioners. We conclude that even though several topics have received more attention than others and while there are some interesting trends, academic and industry research on software product lines are actually rather in line with each other.