Structuring the Open Source literature review

Updated 9 August: Added links, corrected spelling errors
I have spent the last couple of days reworking my previous notes into a coherent narrative for the liturature review. My current thoughts are to structure things as follows:

  • A background to OSS, including
    • a narrative of the history and personalities involved
    • legal definition, distinguishing free-use from copyleft, and mentioning some solutions such as LGPL and MPL which represent some form of compromise with proprietary code
    • emphasis on the community aspect of OSS development
      • it is more than just a way of releasing software
      • summary of what the community requires (forums, repository etc)
    • Introducing the concept of the perceived challenge to conventional business models for software development and also the underlying sponsorship by commercial companies of many OSS applications (eg Sun and OOo)
  • A discussion of the economic and business issues behind OSS development
    • OSS and government policy: various views on the extent to which government should intervene to support OSS (Hahn, Schmidt & Schnitzer)
    • At the micro level, what incentives are seen for individuals and organisations to develop (as opposed to use) OSS (von Hippel & von Krogh, FLOSS)
  • European policy
    • Studies have shown low level or awareness and confusion about OSS amongst EU PAs, but also have started analysis of OSS adoption patterns – the reasons why individual PAs have adopted OS application
    • Work has been done on a practical framework for EU-supported OSS
    • Confusion between open standards and open source
    • At the project level, a model has been constructed of the types of project where OSS could be viable
    • Ongoing support for OSS at EU level – for instance the IDABC OSS observatory and the Public Sector and OSS project
    • COSPA as an example of a real-life exploration of OSS implementation issues in Europe – and its limitations from the point of view of understanding development of new OSS applications rather than roll-out
  • Issues raised to be explored further:
    • Why have studies been ignored that show that pro-OSS government intervention is not a good idea
    • Why have the findings on the tools to support OSS development and sharing not been followed up by action
    • What models exist for ongoing development of OSS applications once initial IST funding runs out

The big issue is working out which sources to rate – I am not having much luck with CiteSeer, and a google of Napier’s website hasn’t turned up much in terms of prior work I can use for background reading.


About Peter Cruickshank

Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.
This entry was posted in opensource, Project Diary, thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Structuring the Open Source literature review

  1. I’ve started a bibliography page here: Open Source Bibliography

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