FLOSS @ Syracuse

The FLOSS research group at Syracuse University's iSchool offers several FLOSS research resources, developed in conjunction with research into work practices and dynamics of FLOSS development teams.

We are studying the following general research questions:

  • What practices make some distributed work teams more effective than others?
  • How are these practices developed?
  • What are the dynamics through which self-organizing distributed teams develop and work?

Understanding these questions is important because the digital society entails an increased use of distributed teams for a wide range of knowledge work, but research indicates that distributed teams face numerous obstacles to effective work. FLOSS teams are important examples of distributed teams: developers contribute from around the world, rarely meet face-to-face, and coordinate their activity almost exclusively by means of email and bulletin boards. Yet some teams have been outstandingly successful at quickly developing reliable and useful software. In addition to its importance as an example of distributed work, FLOSS is an important phenomenon worthy of study in its own right. Millions of users depend on FLOSS systems such as Linux and the Apache Web server, yet our knowledge of the practices used by developers is still scarce.

To support FLOSS research, we are developing research community resources in the form of a shared data and analysis archive (FLOSSmole), as well as a FLOSS research resource portal (FLOSShub) and a FLOSS research artifacts repository (FLOSSpapers).