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  1. Research within sociotechnical domains, such as Software Engineering, fundamentally requires the human perspective. Nevertheless, traditional qualitative data collection methods suffer from difficulties in participant recruitment, scaling, and labor intensity. This vision paper proposes a novel approach to qualitative data collection in software engineering research by harnessing the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI), especially large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and multimodal foundation models. We explore the potential of AI-generated synthetic text as an alternative source of qualitative data, discussing how LLMs can replicate human responses and behaviors in research settings. We discuss AI applications in emulating humans in interviews, focus groups, surveys, observational studies, and user evaluations. We discuss open problems and research opportunities to implement this vision. In the future, an integrated approach where both AI and human-generated data coexist will likely yield the most effective outcomes. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 12, 2025
  3. Machine Learning (ML) is increasingly gaining significance for end- user programmer (EUP) applications. However, machine learning end-user programmers (ML-EUPs) without the right background face a daunting learning curve and a heightened risk of mistakes and flaws in their models. In this work, we designed a conversa- tional agent named “Newton” as an expert to support ML-EUPs. Newton’s design was shaped by a comprehensive review of existing literature, from which we identified six primary challenges faced by ML-EUPs and five strategies to assist them. To evaluate the efficacy of Newton’s design, we conducted a Wizard of Oz within-subjects study with 12 ML-EUPs. Our findings indicate that Newton effec- tively assisted ML-EUPs, addressing the challenges highlighted in the literature. We also proposed six design guidelines for future conversational agents, which can help other EUP applications and software engineering activities. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 6, 2025
  4. [Background] Selecting an appropriate task is challenging for Open Source Software (OSS) project newcomers and a variety of strategies can help them in this process. [Aims] In this research, we compare the perspective of maintainers, newcomers, and existing contributors about the importance of strategies to support this process. Our goal is to identify possible gulfs of expectations between newcomers who are meant to be helped and contributors who have to put effort into these strategies, which can create friction and impede the usefulness of the strategies. [Method] We interviewed maintainers (n=17) and applied inductive qualitative analysis to derive a model of strategies meant to be adopted by newcomers and communities. Next, we sent a questionnaire (n=64) to maintainers, frequent contributors, and newcomers, asking them to rank these strategies based on their importance. We used the Schulze method to compare the different rankings from the different types of contributors. [Results] Maintainers and contributors diverged in their opinions about the relative importance of various strategies. The results suggest that newcomers want a better contribution process and more support to onboard, while maintainers expect to solve questions using the available communication channels. [Conclusions] The gaps in perspectives between newcomers and existing contributors create a gulf of expectation. OSS communities can leverage our results to prioritize the strategies considered the most important by newcomers. 
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