Investigating Severity Thresholds for Test Smells

Davide Spadini, Martin Schvarcbacher, Ana Oprescu, Magiel Bruntink, Alberto Bacchelli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Test smells are poor design decisions implemented in test code, which can have an impact on the effectiveness and maintainability of unit tests. Even though test smell detection tools exist, how to rank the severity of the detected smells is an open research topic. In this work, we aim at investigating the severity rating for four test smells and investigate their perceived impact on test suite maintainability by the developers. To accomplish this, we first analyzed some 1,500 open-source projects to elicit severity thresholds for commonly found test smells. Then, we conducted a study with developers to evaluate our thresholds. We found that (1) current detection rules for certain test smells are considered as too strict by the developers and (2) our newly defined severity thresholds are in line with the participants' perception of how test smells have an impact on the maintainability of a test suite. Preprint [], data and material [].
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 17th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Mining Software Repositories, MSR 2020
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450379571
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Empirical Software Engineering
  • Software Testing
  • Test Smells


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