Steve MacDonell imageMCom(Otago), PhD(Cantab), MIITP

Room 3.51, Otago Business School
Tel +64 3 479 5032
Research Gate Stephen_MacDonell
Google Scholar Stephen G MacDonell

Background and interests

I hold a part-time appointment as Professor in Information Science at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. I was awarded BCom(Hons) and MCom degrees from the University of Otago and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. My research has been published in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology, ACM Computing Surveys, Empirical Software Engineering, Information & Management, the Journal of Systems and Software, Information and Software Technology, and the Project Management Journal, and I have presented my research findings at numerous international conferences.

I am a Fellow of IT Professionals NZ, Senior Member of the IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society, Member of the ACM, and I serve on the Editorial Board of Information and Software Technology.

I am also a Deputy Director, and Theme Leader for Data Science & Digital Technologies, in New Zealand's National Science Challenge Science for Technological Innovation.


I am a researcher of behavioural software engineering – my aim is to better understand and improve how we build and deploy software-intensive systems. My research is focused on four related aspects of empirical software engineering: teams, practices, analytics, and evidence. I use statistical, machine-learning and knowledge-based methods to model aspects of software practices, processes and projects, often in conjunction with expert-judgment approaches. My research on software processes and projects has attracted significant external funding, supporting the work of numerous postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students.

See also my google scholar entry and my ResearchGate page (link above).

I am also part of the research group:
Information Systems and Software Engineering

International collaborative projects

SEGAL, University of Victoria, Software ecosystems, 2018–present

HELENA Project – Hybrid dEveLopmENt Approaches in software systems development, 2016–2021

Hong Kong:
Department of Computer Science, City University of Hong Kong, Prediction models for software effort and software faults, 2017–2019


I have supervised through to completion 35 Doctoral students and 24 Master's thesis students. I am always keen to hear from top students who are interested in undertaking postgraduate study, for PhD and Master's degrees. Before making contact with me please read and consider these two documents:

Currently co-supervising

  • Chathrie Wimalasooriya
  • Pascal Omondiagbe

Grants and awards

Research grants

  • 2016–2024, Callaghan Innovation, Science for Technological Innovation NSC, Deputy Director/Theme Leader, $2,100,000 (PI)
  • 2014, Ministry of Health (MOH0044) Review of antidote, antitoxin and antivenom stocks, $50,000 (PI)
  • 2007–2012, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology – Research for Industry (PROJ-12552-NMTS-UOAX0712), Software process and product improvement, $840,000 p.a., 1.10.07-30.09.12 (with Profs. John Grundy and John Hosking, University of Auckland NZ, and others) (Co-PI)
  • 2010–2011, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Pre-Seed Tech Jumpstart, FuzzyManager II, $10,000 (PI)

Research awards and distinctions

  • Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia (CORE), John Hughes Distinguished Service Award, 2022
  • ACM SIGSoft Distinguished Paper Award (with P. Tell, J. Klünder, S. Küpper, D. Raffo, J. Münch, D. Pfahl, O. Linssen and M. Kuhrmann), International Conference on Software and System Processes, 2019
  • Best Paper Award (with S. Mensah, J. Keung, M.F. Bosu and K.E. Bennin), International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability and Security, 2017
  • Best Paper Award (with B. Raza and T. Clear), 8th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering, 2013
  • Best Research Paper Award (with M.F. Bosu), 22nd Australasian Software Engineering Conference, 2013
  • Best Short Paper Award (with M. Shepperd), 4th International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement, 2010

Teaching and Learning Grants

  • Recipient of a SCIENCES Teaching and Learning Development Grant (University of Otago) to enable the development of animations to be incorporated in the teaching of difficult concepts in COMP 102.
  • Recipient of an Educational Technology Support Services (ETSS) Teaching Technology grant (University of Otago) to support the development of:
    (1) an automatic test assessment and feedback system for COMP 101
    (2) formative and flexible self-assessment modules for COMP 102.


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