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Volume 26 / Issue 7

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Evaluating Case Study and Action Research Reports: Real-world Research in Cybersecurity

Simon Vrhovec (University of Maribor, Slovenia)

Damjan Fujs (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Luka Jelovčan (University of Maribor, Slovenia)

Anže Mihelič (University of Maribor, Slovenia)

Abstract: There is a growing number of scientific papers reporting on case studies and action research published each year. Consequently, evaluating the quality of pilling up research reports is becoming increasingly challenging. Several approaches for evaluation of quality of the scientific outputs exist however they appear to be fairly time-consuming and/or adapted for other research designs. In this paper, we propose a reasonably light-weight structure-based approach for evaluating case study and action research reports (SAE-CSAR) based on eight key parts of a real-world research report: research question, case description, data collection, data analysis, ethical considerations, results, discussion and limitations. To evaluate the feasibility of the proposed approach, we conducted a systematic literature survey of papers reporting on real-world cybersecurity research. A total of N = 102 research papers were evaluated. Results suggest that SAE-CSAR is useful and relatively efficient, and may offer a thought-provoking insight into the studied field. Although there is a positive trend for the inclusion of data collection, data analysis and research questions in papers, there is still room for improvement suggesting that the field of real-world cybersecurity research did not mature yet. The presence of a discussion in a paper appears to affect most its citation count. However, it seems that it is not uniformly accepted what a discussion should include. This paper explores this and other issues related to paper structure and provides guidance on how to improve the quality of research reports.

Keywords: article, assessment, conference proceedings, context, cybersecurity, journal paper, natural settings, real life, research outcome, review, scientific paper

Categories: J.4, L.4.0, L.5