Onboarding in open source software projects: A preliminary analysis

Fabian Fagerholm, Patrik Johnson, Alejandro Sańchez Guinea, Jay Borenstein, Jur̈gen Münch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Nowadays, many software projects are partially or completely open-source based. There is an increasing need for companies to participate in open-source software (OSS) projects, e.g., in order to benefit from open source ecosystems. OSS projects introduce particular challenges that have to be understood in order to gain the benefits. One such challenge is getting newcomers onboard into the projects effectively. Similar challenges may be present in other self-organised, virtual team environments. In this paper we present preliminary observations and results of in-progress research that studies the process of onboarding into virtual OSS teams. The study is based on a program created and conceived at Stanford University in conjunction with Facebook's Education Modernization program. It involves the collaboration of more than a dozen international universities and nine open source projects. More than 120 students participated in 2013. The students have been introduced to and supported by mentors experienced in the participating OSS projects. Our findings indicate that mentoring is an important factor for effective onboarding in OSS projects, promoting cohesion within distributed teams and maintaining an appropriate pace. 978-0-7695-5055-8/13 $26.00

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2013 IEEE 8th International Conference on Global Software Engineering Workshops, ICGSEW 2013
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780769550558
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational Conference on Global Software Engineering Workshops - Bari, Italy
Duration: 26 Aug 201326 Aug 2013
Conference number: 8


WorkshopInternational Conference on Global Software Engineering Workshops
Abbreviated titleICGSEW


  • Case study
  • Distributed software development
  • Global software development
  • Mentoring
  • Onboarding
  • Open source software projects
  • Virtual teams

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