Requirements Information in Backlog Items: Content Analysis

Ashley T. van Can*, Fabiano Dalpiaz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


[Context and motivation] With the advent of agile development, requirements are increasingly stored and managed within issue tracking systems (ITSs). These systems provide a single point of access to the product and sprint backlogs, bugs, ideas, and also tasks for the development team to complete. [Question/problem] ITSs combine two perspectives: representing requirements knowledge and allocating work items to team members. We tackle a knowledge problem, addressing questions such as: How are requirements formulated in ITSs? Which types of requirements are represented? At which granularity level? We also explore whether a distinction exists between open source projects and proprietary ones. [Principal ideas/results] Through quantitative content analysis, we analyze 1,636 product backlog items sampled from fourteen projects. Among the main findings, we learned that the labeling of backlog items is largely inconsistent, and that user-oriented functional requirements are the prevalent category. We also find that a single backlog item can contain multiple requirements with different levels of granularity. [Contribution] We reveal knowledge and patterns about requirements documentation in ITSs. These outcomes can be used to gain a better empirical understanding of Agile RE, and as a basis for the development of automated tools that identify and analyze requirements in product and sprint backlogs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRequirements Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationFoundation for Software Quality - 30th International Working Conference, REFSQ 2024, Proceedings
EditorsDaniel Mendez, Daniel Mendez, Ana Moreira, Ana Moreira
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9783031573262
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2024
Event30th International Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality, REFSQ 2024 - Winterthur, Switzerland
Duration: 8 Apr 202412 Apr 2024

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume14588 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference30th International Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality, REFSQ 2024


  • Agile Requirements Engineering
  • Backlog Items
  • Content Analysis
  • Issue Tracking Systems
  • User Stories


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