Assignment Journal Article Critique: Continued Voluntary Participation Intention in Firm-Participating Open Source Software Projects

Hello viewers and welcome to another post! The post, is a review and critique of an academic journal article, in which located within the Information Systems Research Journal, which is listed by ABS journal guide 2015 as having an AJG 2015 rating of 4* and a previous ABS 2010 rating of 4; therefore, the journal article should be of distinction, in which containing accurate and reliable information of the highest quality.

The article title is “Continued Voluntary Participation Intention in Firm-Participating Open Source Software Projects“, in which the authors are Shuk Ying Ho and Arun Rai; furthermore, the journal article is located within volume 28, No. 3, September 2017, pages 603-625.

Journal Article Summarised

The Purpose

The article seeks to explore firm-participating open source software (OSS) projects and the relation to volunteers continued participation intention (VCPI), thus attempting to provide solutions to increase and prolong VCPI. Two types of firm-participating OSS projects are explored, including community founded and spinout, which are described as sponsorship with open communities of hobbyists and the release of proprietary source code of an internal project respectively.

Two project quality control methods are investigated, in which stating that these methods result in perceived signals of project quality, that could positively affect the VCPI; furthermore, the effects of the two quality control methods are investigated in relation to the resulting VCPI, whilst exploring how the volunteers tenure affects the perceived project quality and effectiveness of quality control methods for the VCPI.

The Methodologies

A literature review was conducted, in which exploring some of the renowned methods of prolonging VCPI, including peer cognition, status, potential increased career earnings, well designed code and total amount of contributions made; furthermore, the literature review examined the correlation between volunteers direct experience and lack of complete knowledge of project quality, in which three reasons were highlighted.

Large-scale projects would require large parts of the source code to be analysed for quality, which would be labour intensive and not realistic; also, volunteers would require the knowledge and skills to assess the project quality, which may not be prudent, whilst volunteers in OSS projects generally have limited roles, thus with limited amounts of code exposure.

To collect data about the VCPI in relation to the hypothesis of the article, an online survey was carried out of OSS developers, which was an eleven question Likert Scale survey; furthermore, the questions were chosen to provide results of the hypothesised quality control methods of accreditation and code acceptance, whilst answering developer-based, project-based and cooperative norm variables.

The Results

The quality controls of accreditation and code acceptance within firm-participating OSS projects, resulted in significant positive effects on VCPI, whilst increased volunteer tenure shows declined effectiveness with accreditation, but not for code acceptance; furthermore, the two quality control methods were found to have stronger effects on spinout projects than community-founded projects. The article explains that the research was important to show OSS project leaders that quality control methods can have unobserved effects on the VCPI, whose participation within the project is of most importance.

My Critiques of the Journal Article

The title and abstract of the article are clear and specific to the explored topic, whilst the introduction is clear and concise, in which using subheading rhetorical questions to outline the upcoming text; furthermore, the authors utilise real-word examples throughout the article to further explain points, which make technical topics much more understandable; however, the usage of real-world examples can become quite repetitive, such as p.610, which uses many real-world examples (and much of the two column page) to illustrate a point summarised within one concluding short paragraph.

The literature review explains the necessary subheading points well, with many strong and good referenced examples, reinforcing the introductory points made, whilst proposing new points; however, I felt that the point explored of an increased volunteer tenure weakening the quality control effectiveness due to not having sophisticated knowledge and skills of software development projects was quite weak.

Most software developers, even more so those that are prepared to sacrifice free-time to code, will have a general grasp of the basic software development processes. This is further defined in the article, by the fact that out of 304 surveyed OSS developer respondents, 221 had 4 or more years development experience, whilst 187 had more than 8 years development experience; therefore, the developers may not be aware of the sophisticated sectors of software development, but should have a general grasp to be able to notice project quality issues and code discrepancies.

Some statements made within the article can be unclear, such as on p.614, in which the authors explain need-driven responses with community-founded projects and need-driven projects. The need-driven responses are repeated for both project explanations, in which the responses could be combined into a much shorter point, thus condensing two paragraphs into one and improving the readability.

The hypotheses of the article are well thought out and explored in great detail, in which much referenced work of other authors is used as evidence; furthermore, the measures in which the survey questions were formulated are well-developed, with usage of referenced evidence, historical data and literature review rationale; therefore, showing a great deal of critical thinking of variables and outliers to ensure the survey provided accurate data.

One survey question states “Developers answer each others questions in a timely manner”, which would require the user to answer on a Likert scale of 1 – 11, stating strongly agree or disagree; however, I feel this question should require a specific range of time. Each user may have a different perception of what an acceptable timely manner is, thus the Likert scale results will be inaccurate and specific to this user perception, not producing the results that the question is seeking, which are the extent of communication amongst OSS developers.

Some of the results of the article are unsurprising, such as when the article proposed the quality control hypothesis of accreditation and code acceptance, it was clear to me that this would positively impact the VCPI before reading the results of the online survey; furthermore, more than half of developers surveyed were participating because of need-driven motives, such as personal development, company development or resume development, thus extended tenures decreasing VCPI was also expected. I feel if additional quality control methods were investigated, instead of the limitation of two, the resulting findings would’ve been much more improved.

Overall I found the article to be intriguing and exploring crucial factors to OSS projects, in which following very well analysed data, well thought-out hypothesise and methodologies; however, I feel that the structure and readability of the article could’ve been better, whilst including more investigations of further quality control methods.

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