Studying the impact of social interactions on software quality (paper review)http://www.springerlink.com/content/j747jqn77h358824/
I wish this paper could end up at some coffee tables in the lunchrooms at software development companies. I also wish this study to be replicated in large, commerial software systems.
In its essence the idea is simple (yet cool!): if there exist predictors of quality in the internal product characteristics (e.g. McCabe complexity), are there any predictors based on organizational aspects like social interactions.
This paper shows that in projects like Eclipse (www.eclipse.org) these social interactions, extracted from defect tracking discussions, have a good predictive power. The paper uses such aspects of social interactions as role or participant - it also includes lengths of discussions, centrality of the subjects, etc.
There are a number of cool conclusions and metrics, but one I liked most: "Overall, we observe a strong ef fect of discussion f low inconsistencies on the failure proneness of f iles associated with the discussion." Basically it means that if the discussion is unfocused, then the module is fault prone - nice that they've managed to find a metric for that!