Grey Literature on Technical Debt [Open]



External Member

Dr Zadia Codabux, University of Saskatchewan (Canada)


Technical Debt (TD) is sub-par design decisions made during software development for short-term benefits, e.g., faster release of the software, but must be managed to avoid disastrous consequences in the long term. Technical debt research has become popular over the last decade with the increase in the adoption of agile practices in the industry. With a peak in the number of publications, systematic literature reviews on technical debt have become popular to synthesize research. However, technical debt is experienced by software developers daily, and they often document their experiences and insights through blog articles. Their perspective is crucial for researchers to build technical debt management tools relevant to developers. 


This project will investigate the posts on technical debt on Medium, a popular publishing platform for blog articles. Studies have shown that Multivocal Literature Review, a form of a Systematic Literature Review that includes grey literature, provides valuable additional insights often not found in published (formal) literature (e.g., journal and conference papers). We will search for blog posts relevant to technical debt, codify and perform topic modelling on the articles. We will extract and analyze information about different facets of TD, namely, types and activities, context, scenarios, examples, management, measurement, developer stories, to extract a taxonomy of guidelines and best practices for practitioners and researchers.

You will have to read a large number of papers, synthesise their content, and produce visualisations and analysis to create new knowledge. It is possible that you will also conduct an anonymous online survey to triangulate those results with your systematic literature review.


  • Personal organisations skills.
  • Excellent ability to read and summarise information into structured spreadsheets.
  • Excellent attention to detail.
  • Basic programming knowledge, preferably either R or Python, but with a focus on visualisation skills (e.g., plot generation, data wrangling)

Please, contact me via email with a detailed resume, and your comments (1 page only)on why you are interested in on this project.

Anybody is welcome to apply. However, female candidates (or female-identifying) are especially encouraged to submit.

Background Literature

Z. Codabux, M. Vidoni and F. Fard,  "Technical Debt in the Peer-Review Documentation of R Packages: a rOpenSci Case Study," in 2021 IEEE/ACM 18th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories (MSR), 2021 pp. 195-206.

Barbara Kitchenham, O. Pearl Brereton, David Budgen, Mark Turner, John Bailey, Stephen Linkman, "Systematic literature reviews in software engineering – A systematic literature review", in Information and Software Technology, Vol. 51(1), 2009, pp.7-15.

Please, take a look at Dr Vidoni's papers here:


  • Technical Debt Research
  • Grey Literature Review == Closer to Devs
  • Data Extraction

Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing