Dialectic approach to multidisciplinary practice in requirements engineering
This thesis develops an approach that supports multidisciplinary practice in requirements engineering. It is argued that multidisciplinary requirements engineering practice is ineffective, and some specific problems for multidisciplinary practice are identified. It is also suggested that the incommensurability of conflicting paradigms is an underlying cause of the problems in multidisciplinary practice, and a number of criteria for support to overcome such problems are proposed. A form of methodological support, which it is claimed may help overcome some of the problems associated with multidisciplinary practice in requirements engineering, is developed. This methodological support takes the form of a dialectic process, and its associated products, which is conceptualised and then operationalised. As an illustration of the methodological support offered to multidisciplinary practice, the operationalisation of the dialectic process is applied to requirements constructed by the use of two different requirements engineering techniques from two different disciplines (representing two different paradigms), in the domain of Accident and Emergency healthcare. Finally, the application of the operationalisation of the dialectic process is assessed with respect to the criteria for support for multidisciplinary practice proposed earlier, and this assessment is used to reconceptualise the dialectic process. The limitations of the research are identified, and possibilities for future work proposed. This thesis is aimed primarily at the requirements engineering community, and in particular the practising requirements engineer. It makes two contributions to knowledge supporting the practices of requirements engineering. First, the thesis contributes two types of substantive discipline knowledge: an explanation of why multidisciplinary practice in requirements engineering is problematic; and the proposal of criteria for support to allay the difficulties of multidisciplinary practice. It is suggested that these criteria might be used in the development of new types of support to overcomes such difficulties, or in the assessmment of new requirements engineering techniques that claim to address multidisciplinary practice. Second, the thesis contributes methodological knowledge in the form of a dialectic approach that offers a new way of reasoning about requirements engineering. This methodological knowledge takes two forms: a generic dialectic approach that might be applied by requirements engineering practitioners to requirements, generated by a wide range of requirements engineering techniques, representing alternative paradigms; and a specific instantiation of the dialectic approach using the MUSE method and the Grounded Theory method, that might be used in its current form by requirements engineering practitioners to support their own multidisciplinary practice.