CLOSED Call for Papers: Special Issue on Behavioral Science of Software Engineering

Submission deadline: CLOSED

Publication: November/December 2020

Fundamentally, software is limited only by human imagination and ingenuity. Understanding human reasoning and the social context in the software engineering (SE) process is crucial to promoting innovation and productivity – and there is a well-established, international community that conducts empirical studies of the psychology of SE, applying cognitive and social psychological theory to software development in order to make sense of practice and to lead to new insights, methods, and tools. This community (including researchers in both industry and academia) is now beginning to incorporate a behavioral science perspective on software engineering, as the discipline moves to larger developments, with larger development teams who are often geographically distributed.

This special issue invites the community to provide a snapshot of how such work might affect SE, addressing key themes that have persisted over time as well as themes that have emerged as computing technology has evolved. Authors are invited to reflect on how psychology of programming research has been adapted to use in industry and how the wider perspective of behavioral science is becoming more mainstream – revealing insights that may be adapted and leveraged in practice.

IEEE Software invites articles covering any aspect of behavioral science of SE. The invitation is for not just research articles, but also practice articles addressing SE from a cognitive or social psychology perspective. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • representations and methods to support reasoning in software development
  • cognitive biases – their manifestation in SE and potential mitigators
  • reasoning about flaws and error
  • cognitive and social factors affecting task prioritization in SE – including the balance between social and technical priorities
  • the implications of human psychology for the integration of AI/machine learning in SE
  • social identity and its impact on innovation, productivity, security, etc.
  • signaling in development environments
  • social structures in open source/proprietary projects and ecosystems
  • information needs in software development teams
  • measures reflective of behavioral science/psychological constructs, as used in SE
  • immersion and flow in SE
  • collaboration, coordination, and communication in SE
  • applying behavioral theories in SE practice
  • diversity and inclusiveness in SE
  • the role of (big) data in facilitating behavioral science queries in SE
  • applications of social network analysis

Submission guidelines

Authors interested in submitting a paper should send the title, abstract, and full author list to by 23:00 (GMT) on April 5, 2020.

Manuscripts must not exceed 3,000 words, including figures and tables, which count for 250 words each. Submissions in excess of these limits may be rejected without refereeing. The articles we deem within the theme and scope will be peer reviewed and are subject to editing for magazine style, clarity, organization, and space. Articles should have a practical orientation and be written in a style accessible to practitioners. Overly complex, purely research-oriented, or theoretical treatments aren’t appropriate. Articles should be novel. IEEE Software doesn’t republish material published previously in other venues, including other periodicals and formal conference or workshop proceedings, whether previous publication was in print or electronic form.

For general author guidelines:
To submit an article:

Guest editors

Contact the guest editors at

  • Marian Petre, The Open University
  • Jim Buckley, Lero
  • Luke Church, University of Cambridge
  • James Herbsleb, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Margaret-Anne Storey, University of Victoria
  • Thomas Zimmermann, Microsoft
Special Issue on Behavioral Science of Software Engineering
12 April 2020