This is an interesting question I had in my mind for so long, but unfortunately didn’t explore much. One fine day, I was so curious to know whether there was someone else having the same questions as mine, “Do testers read research papers?” And “if yes, what type of research papers do they read?” “Why do they think it is important?” “why doesn’t someone think it as important” etc …
This curiosity actually led me to create a Linkedin post asking my request to share thoughts on the same, which helped me to understand the importance and that made me write this article sharing my learning on the same.
If you are wandering for a reason to understand the why behind the importance of reading research papers, you may find this helpful.
Let me start by sharing the LinkedIn post,
The responses I received indeed increased my curiosity and helped me to have a proper thought process about the question raised.
But you may be wondering, what made me curious about research papers now, right?
Actually, research papers are not new to me. And I consider the experience I had with research papers helped me a lot in terms of understanding and learnings on various topics. Let me give you a quick glance on my past experience with research papers.
I had an opportunity to get involved in research work and published two papers during my college days during which I started exploring more about research papers.
My first paper was about analysing water droplet behavior on Aluminium and cast iron surfaces. I have written a matlab script for analysing the size of the droplet using the images captured during the experiment. To enhance my understanding, I learnt more about image processing and read some research papers on this topic which helped me during this experiment.
And, this knowledge about image processing helped me when writing automatic checks for verification of images where I need to compare two images using correlation. This gave me realisation about analysis and its importance which is the most fundamental skill for all the testers, which I came to know later after starting my career as a tester.
My second paper was about controlling a brushless DC motor using PWM signal with Raspberry PI as a controller. In this research work, I had learnt to use Raspberry PI, which has an OS called Raspbian that was similar to Linux and learned to write basic Python programs.
The knowledge gained from this paper helped me a lot as my career progressed, it helped me to ease my efforts while writing automation scripts using python and I became comfortable using the Linux operating system.
Here are the links to the paper that I had involved in:
And, this was the reason behind the curiosity that led me to think about research papers on software testing. I am passionate about research and my learnings taught me the importance of reading research papers as well. I wanted to learn from the community about their thoughts on the same.
Following is the mindmap which shows a consolidated view of responses for the post based on my categorisation.
After analyzing all those comments, I observed that testers read papers related to their domain where they could learn deeper in what they have been testing and felt comfortable when talking with their end users. Some responded that they never thought about this. Besides comments, I have received several research articles as well for which I feel grateful.
Soumen Sarkar has shared an article regarding documenting software architecture for an extensive complex NASA system. Documenting about software architecture was new learning for me. He has shared the link to the article that he has read:
I got a comment from James Bach regarding his opinion on reading research papers, which was indeed a surprise response for me:
He also shared a link of research papers that he have read :
I have gone through the link and there was a huge list of papers and books that explains about cognitive and systems dynamics of exploration. It covers many topics such as mental models, social psychology, exploratory data analysis and so on. Most of the papers that he has listed were not only related to technical but also related to human psychology.
Now, I feel great about sharing that question as a post on LinkedIn with the community. Which helped me to gain interesting insights on software testing and research papers.
From the comments by James Bach and Brijesh Deb, I learned about platforms they use to save/store research papers. James uses Zotero and Brijesh uses Mendeley to save the research papers they read.
Research papers give us insights and help to have a holistic view on certain things we are not familiar with or a different view on things we are already familiar with.
From my experience on reading research papers and the response from other testers in my Linkedin post, I have learned that
- Testers can read research papers to enhance the domain knowledge of the applications that they need to test.
- They can read some papers related to technology which will really help them during testing, especially for automation.
- They can read papers related to human psychology and social science, which will really help when interacting with stakeholders and observing their behavior when testing the software.
- Testers can also write research papers that will help them to gain new skills and share their findings with other testers.
I hope after reading this you also feel to explore more about research papers. Also, I am curious to hear your thoughts and findings so that I can learn more about it.
I am a great advocate for testers reading widely, both fiction and non-fiction, because all reading gives you perspectives different from your own and can trigger associations and ideas that can be applied to testing. Your focus on research papers adds another strand to the ideas you bring to testing and can only help make you a better tester.