Social network analysis of open source software: A review and categorisation

Kelvin McClean, Des Greer*, Anna Jurek-Loughrey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
285 Downloads (Pure)


Context: As companies have become large users of Open Source Software, it is important that they feel comfortable in their Open Source strategies. One of the critical differences between Open Source and Proprietary Software is the communication networks.

Objective: This paper tries to set a base for understanding how open source teams are structured and how they change. This is vital to understanding Open Source Software Communities.

Method: The paper looks into previous research on Social Network Analysis of Open Source Software, using a systematic literature review. Papers were gathered from Scopus, IEEEXplore and ACM Digital Library, and used or discarded based on predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Research which focuses on the success factors of Open Source Software through Network Analysis is also examined.

Results: A subjective categorisation is established for the papers: Structure, Lifecycle and Communication. It was found that the structure of a project has a large bearing on project success, with developers having previously worked together being indicative of project success. Other structure indicators of success are having a small but structured hierarchy, a diverse user and developer base, and project prominence. However, it was found that information on how these structures appear and evolve over time is lacking, and future research into temporal data models to determine project success information is suggested.

Conclusions: A categorisation of existing research on Social Network Analysis is provided as a basis for further research. Further work into the lifecycle of OSS projects through Social Network Analysis of temporal project information is suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Article number 106442
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Early online date02 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Page numbers and issue number still to be finalised


Dive into the research topics of 'Social network analysis of open source software: A review and categorisation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this