Various people have asked me about who is currently doing interesting work in empirical software engineering and the following is an attempt to help answer this question. Interestingness is very subjective, in my case it is based on whether I think the work can contribute something towards my book on empirical software engineering.
To keep this list manageable I am restricting myself to groups of researchers (a group is two or more people) and giving priority to those who make their data publicly available.
Some background for those with no experience of academic research. Over a period of 4-5 years a group can go from having published nothing on a research topic to publishing some very interesting stuff to not publishing anything on the topic. Reasons for this include funding appearing/disappearing, the arrival/departure of very productive people (departure may be to other jobs or moving from research into management), or the researcher loosing interest and moving onto other things. A year from now any of the following groups may be disbanded or moved on to other research areas.
Who is the biggest group of researchers? In my mind it is the Canadians (to be exact the groups at Queen’s and Waterloo and the Ptidel project), now the empirical group at Microsoft would probably point out that they are not separated by several hundred miles and all work for the same company; this may be true but looking from Europe the Canadians look real close to each other on a map and all share a domain name ending in ca. In practice members of all three groups write papers together and spend time visiting/interning with each other. Given how rapidly things change I am not going to bother calculating an accurate number 1 for today.
Around the world (where there is no group page to link to I have used an individual’s page):
UK (theory in groups, practice by individuals; Brunel would warrant a link if they put some effort into into maintaining a web presence and made their data available for download, come on guys)
Some researchers leave a group to set up their own group and I know that some people in the above lists have done this. I wish them luck. If their group starts publishing interesting stuff they will be on any future version of this list.
Sitting here typing away I have probably missed out some obvious candidates. Pointers to obvious omissions welcome (remember this is about groups not individuals).