CSE researchers win SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award at ESEC/FSE 2023

PhD student Madeline Endres and Prof. Westley Weimer have been recognized for the excellence of their paper on student contributions to open-source software projects in EECS 481.
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CSE researchers, along with their coauthors at Vanderbilt University and Microsoft Research, have received a SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award at the 2023 ACM Joint European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (ESEC/FSE). The authors, including PhD student Madeline Endres and Prof. Westley Weimer, were recognized for the excellence and impact of their paper, “A Four-Year Study of Student Contributions to OSS vs. OSS4SG with a Lightweight Intervention.”

ESEC/FSE is one of the top international conferences in software engineering. Held annually, the conference brings together researchers and practitioners to share the latest findings, innovations, and trends across all areas of the field.

Out of 127 manuscripts accepted at this year’s ESEC/FSE conference, only 12 were selected to receive the SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award. Papers are chosen based on their outstanding quality and significance to the field.

In their paper, the authors explore the usage of open-source software (OSS) among student developers. Specifically, they sought to assess how students decide which OSS projects to contribute to and how these student contributions affect OSS success. To accomplish this, the researchers conducted a four-year study with over a thousand student developers to study the full life cycle of their OSS contributions, from project selection to pull request acceptance.

At the same time, the authors attempted to promote students’ awareness of open-source projects for social good (OSS4SG) to determine whether they would be more inclined to contribute to OSS projects with a positive social impact. The intervention was implemented in EECS 481: Software Engineering at U-M, where students were encouraged to contribute to OSS4SG projects.

Their findings revealed significant differences in project selection, student motivation, and pull request acceptance rates for OSS4SG projects compared to general OSS projects. These findings suggest that, when made aware of them, student developers are more likely to select OSS projects with social impact, and that their contributions to these projects are more likely to be successful. 

With these findings, the authors hope to improve the experiences of new developers and broaden their participation and success in OSS4SG projects.