An Experiment to Assess Cost-Benefits of Inspection Meetings and their Alternatives
Votta, Lawrence G.
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We hypothesize that inspection meetings are far less effective than many people believe and that meetingless inspections are equally effective. However, two of our previous industrial case studies contradict each other on this issue. Therefore, we are conducting a multi-trial, controlled experiment to assess the benefits of inspection meetings and to evaluate alternative procedures. The experiment manipulates four independent variables- (1) the inspection method used (two methods involve meetings, one method does not), (2) the requirements specification to be inspected (there are two), (3) the inspection round (each team participates in two inspections), and (4) the presentation order (either specification can be inspected first). For each experiment we measure 3 dependent variables: (1) the individual fault detection rate, (2) the team fault detection rate, and (3) the percentage of faults originally discovered after the initial inspection phase (during which phase reviewers individually analyze the document). So far we have completed one run of the experiment with 21 graduate students in the computer science at the University of Maryland as subjects, but we do not yet have enough data points to draw definite conclusions. Rather than presenting preliminary conclusions, this article (1) describes the experiment's design and the provocative hypotheses we are evaluating, (2) summarizes our observations from the experiment's initial run, and (3) discusses how we are using these observations to verify our data collection instruments and to refine future experimental runs. (Also cross-referenced as UMIACS-TR-95-89)