Research Track - Call for Papers

(Virtual Event)

Goal and Scope

IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME) is the premier forum for researchers and practitioners to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, experiences, and challenges in software maintenance and evolution. We invite high quality submissions describing significant, original, and unpublished results related to but not limited to any of the following software maintenance and evolution topics (in alphabetical order):

  • Change and defect management
  • Code cloning and provenance
  • Concept and feature location
  • Continuous integration/deployment
  • Empirical studies of software maintenance and evolution
  • Evolution of non-code artefacts
  • Human aspects of software maintenance and evolution
  • Maintenance and evolution of model-based methods
  • Maintenance and evolution processes
  • Maintenance and evolution of mobile apps
  • Maintenance versus release process
  • Mining software repositories
  • Productivity of software engineers
  • Release engineering
  • Reverse engineering and re-engineering
  • Run-time evolution and dynamic configuration
  • Service oriented and cloud computing
  • Software and system comprehension
  • Software migration and renovation
  • Software quality assessment
  • Software refactoring and restructuring
  • Software testing theory and practice
  • Source code analysis and manipulation

ICSME welcomes innovative ideas that are timely, well presented, and evaluated. All submissions must position themselves within the existing literature, describe the relevance of the results to specific software engineering goals, and include a clear motivation and presentation of the work.

To establish a consistent set of expectations in the review process, the authors are asked, as part of the online submission process, to identify their papers with one or more of the following categories:


A paper in which the main contribution is of a technical nature. This includes novel tools, new algorithms, new theories, modeling languages, infrastructures, processes, methods and other technologies. Such a contribution does not necessarily need to be evaluated with humans. However, clear arguments, backed up by evidence as appropriate (whether through a proof, complexity analysis, or run-time analysis, among others), must show how and why the technology is beneficial, why a new method is needed, whether it is in automating or supporting some user task, refining our modeling capabilities, improving some key system property, etc.


A paper in which the main contribution is the empirical study of a software evolution technology or phenomenon. This includes controlled experiments, case studies, and surveys of professionals reporting qualitative or quantitative data and analysis results. The authors should provide convincing arguments, with commensurate experiences, why certain methods or models are needed. Such a contribution will be judged on its study design, appropriateness and correctness of its analysis, and threats to validity. Replications are welcome.


A paper in which the main contribution is a novel perspective on the field as a whole, or part thereof. This includes assessments of the current state of the art and achievements, systematic literature reviews, framing of an important problem, forward-looking thought pieces, connections to other disciplines, and historical perspectives. Such a contribution must, in a highly convincing manner, clearly articulate the vision, novelty, and potential impact.

All papers should be full papers, and papers may belong to more than one category.


All submissions that meet the submission criteria (see below) and fit the scope of the conference will be reviewed by three members of the program committee. Submissions will be evaluated on the basis of soundness, importance of contribution, originality, quality of presentation, appropriate comparison to related work, and convincing evaluation of the proposed approach. Submissions that are not in compliance with the required submission format or that are out of the scope of the conference will be rejected without being reviewed. Submitted papers must comply with IEEE plagiarism policy and procedures. Papers submitted to ICSME 2021 must not have been published elsewhere and must not be under review or submitted for review elsewhere while under consideration for ICSME 2021. Submitting the same paper to different tracks of ICSME 2021 is also not allowed.

The best papers of ICSME 2021 will be awarded IEEE TCSE Distinguished Paper awards.

Publication and Presentation

Accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings and submitted for inclusion in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library. All authors of all accepted papers will be asked to complete an electronic IEEE Copyright form and will receive further instructions for preparing their camera-ready versions. At least one author of each accepted paper must register for the conference and present the paper at the conference. Failure of at least one author to register by the early registration date will result in the paper being withdrawn from the conference proceedings. IEEE reserves the right to exclude a paper from distribution after the conference (e.g., by not placing it in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library) if the paper is not presented at the conference. Presentation details will follow notifications of acceptance.

How to Submit

Similar to recent years, we are following a double-blind reviewing process. Submitted papers must adhere to the following rules:

Author names and affiliations must be omitted. (The track co-chairs will check compliance before reviewing begins.) References to authors' own related work must be in the third person. (For example, not "We build on our previous work..." but rather "We build on the work of...") Please see the Double-Blind Reviewing FAQ ( for more information and guidance.

Papers must strictly adhere to the two-column IEEE conference proceedings format. Please use the templates available here. LaTeX users should use the following configuration: \documentclass[conference]{IEEEtran}. Microsoft Word users should use the US Letter format template. Papers must not exceed 10 pages (including figures and appendices) plus up to 2 pages that contain ONLY references. All submissions must be in PDF and must be submitted online by the deadline via the ICSME 2021 EasyChair conference management system. Any relevant supplemental material should also be anonymized and submitted by the same deadline through EasyChair. All authors, reviewers, and organizers are expected to uphold the IEEE Code of Conduct (

Authors of selected papers from the research track will be invited to submit extended versions of their work to a special issue of the Springer International Journal of Empirical Software Engineering (EMSE). These selected papers will be expected to comply with the standard guidelines when publishing an extended version of a paper, including the addition of about 30% new material.

Open Science Policy

ICSME encourages open science practices. Sharing data sets, replication packages, or preprints are not required, but we provide guidance for those wishing to do so.

If you decide to share data or scripts, we encourage you to use an online archival site such as,, or These sites ensure the content is archived and generate a DOI for the content, enabling it to be cited. To learn more about how to share data while maintaining double-blind, read the explanation provided by Daniel Graziotin available here

We recognise that anonymising artifacts such as source code is more difficult than preserving anonymity in a paper. We ask authors to take a best effort approach to not reveal their identities. We will also ask reviewers to avoid trying to identify authors by looking at commit histories and other such information that is not easily anonymised. Authors wanting to share GitHub repositories may want to look into using which is an open source tool that helps you to quickly Double-blind your repository.

ICSME supports and encourages Green Open Access also called self-archiving. We encourage authors to self-archive a preprint of your accepted manuscript in an e-print server such as Open access increases the availability of your work and increases citation impact ( To learn more about open access, please read the Green Open Access FAQ ( by Arie van Deursen. Note that if your research includes scraped GitHub data, the GitHub Terms of Service require that “publications resulting from that research are open access” ( If possible, we recommend that you archive your paper (e.g., on arXiv or on your website) only after the ICSME reviewing process is completed, to avoid undermining the double-blind reviewing process in place.

Authors of papers accepted into ICSME 2021 are invited to submit their artefacts to the joint Artifact Evaluation Track for ICSME, VISSOFT, and SCAM. Papers with accepted artefacts will be awarded badges and invited to present lightning talks at the ROSE (Recognising and Rewarding Open Science in Software Engineering) Festival Track. Please see the Call for Participation for the Artifact Evaluation Track.

Important Dates

**All submission dates are at 23:59 AoE (Anywhere on Earth, UTC-12)**

  • Abstract Submission: April 26th, 2021
  • Paper Submission: April 29th, 2021
  • Author Notification: June 14th, 2021
  • Camera-ready Submission: June 30th, 2021

Track Chairs

Federica Sarro (, University College London, United Kingdom
Nikolaos Tsantalis (, Concordia University, Canada