AuthorsS. Nair, J. L. de la Vara, M. Sabetzadeh and L. C. Briand
TitleAn Extended Systematic Literature Review on Provision of Evidence for Safety Certification
AfilliationSoftware Engineering, Software Engineering, Software Engineering
Project(s)The Certus Centre (SFI)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
JournalInformation and Software Technology

Context: Critical systems in domains such as aviation, railway, and automotive are often subject to a formal process of safety certification. The goal of this process is to ensure that these systems will operate safely without posing undue risks to the user, the public, or the environment. Safety is typically ensured via complying with safety standards. Demonstrating compliance to these standards involves providing evidence to show that the safety criteria of the standards are met. Objective: In order to cope with the complexity of large critical systems and subsequently the plethora of evidence information required for achieving compliance, safety professionals need in-depth knowledge to assist them in classifying different types of evidence, and in structuring and assessing the evidence. This paper is a step towards developing such a body of knowledge that is derived from a large-scale empirically rigorous literature review. Method: We use a Systematic Literature Review (SLR) as the basis for our work. The SLR builds on 218 peer-reviewed studies, selected through a multi-stage process, from 4,963 studies published between 1990 and 2012. Results: We develop a taxonomy that classifies the information and artefacts considered as evidence for safety. We review the existing techniques for safety evidence structuring and assessment, and further study the relevant challenges that have been the target of investigation in the academic literature. We analyse commonalities in the results among different application domains and discuss implications of the results for both research and practice. Conclusion: The paper is, to our knowledge, the largest existing study on the topic of safety evidence. The results are particularly relevant to practitioners seeking a better grasp on evidence requirements as well as to researchers in the area of system safety. As a major finding of the review, the results strongly suggest the need for more practitioner-oriented and industry-driven empirical studies in the area of safety certification.

Citation KeyIST2014