Patterns of continuous requirements clarification

Eric Knauss*, Daniela Damian, Jane Cleland-Huang, Remko Helms

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In software projects involving large and often distributed teams, requirements evolve through the collaboration of many stakeholders, supported by online tools
such as mailing lists, bug tracking systems, or online discussion forums. In this collaboration, requirements typically evolve from initial ideas, through clarification, to the implementation of a stable requirement. Deviations from
this expected course might indicate requirements that are poorly understood, need further negotiation, or better alignment with project goals. If not addressed timely, such problems can surface late in the development cycle with
negative consequences such as rework, missed schedules, or overrun budget. This paper presents an approach that provides project managers’ with timely awareness of such requirements-related risks, based on automatic analysis of
stakeholders’ online requirement communication. We describe a clarification classifier that automatically analyzes requirements communication in a project and detects clarification events, a catalog of clarification patterns, and a pattern matcher that suggests communication patterns based on our pattern catalog. Our approach has been empirically constructed and evaluated in a case study in th IBM(r) Rational Team Concert(r) project. We discuss the applicability of our approach in other projects as well as avenues for extending our pattern catalog toward a theory of clarification patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-403
Number of pages21
JournalRequirements Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • requirements clarification patterns
  • distributed requirements engineering
  • communication of requirements
  • continuous requirements engineering


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