On the value of a prioritization scheme for resolving Self-admitted technical debt

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

26 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-54
Journal / PublicationJournal of Systems and Software
Online published28 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


Programmers tend to leave incomplete, temporary workarounds and buggy codes that require rework in software development and such pitfall is referred to as Self-admitted Technical Debt (SATD). Previous studies have shown that SATD negatively affects software project and incurs high maintenance overheads. In this study, we introduce a prioritization scheme comprising mainly of identification, examination and rework effort estimation of prioritized tasks in order to make a final decision prior to software release. Using the proposed prioritization scheme, we perform an exploratory analysis on four open source projects to investigate how SATD can be minimized. Four prominent causes of SATD are identified, namely code smells (23.2%), complicated and complex tasks (22.0%), inadequate code testing (21.2%) and unexpected code performance (17.4%). Results show that, among all the types of SATD, design debts on average are highly prone to software bugs across the four projects analysed. Our findings show that a rework effort of approximately 10 to 25 commented LOC per SATD source file is needed to address the highly prioritized SATD (vital few) tasks. The proposed prioritization scheme is a novel technique that will aid in decision making prior to software release in an attempt to minimize high maintenance overheads.

Research Area(s)

  • Open source projects, Prioritization scheme, Self-admitted technical debt, Source code comment, Textual indicators