For two decades, software inspections have proven e ective for detecting defects in software. We have reviewed the di erent ways software inspections are done, created a taxonomy of inspection methods, and examined claims about the cost-e ectiveness of di erent methods. We detect a disturbing pattern in the evaluation of inspection methods. Although there is universal agreement on the e ectiveness of software inspection, their economics are uncertain. Our examination of several empirical studies leads us to conclude that the bene ts of inspections are often overstated and the costs (especially for large software developments) are understated. Furthermore, some of the most in uential studies establishing these costs and bene ts are 20 years old now, which leads us to question their relevance to today's software development processes. Extensive work is needed to determine exactly how, why, and when software inspections work, and whether some defect detection techniques might be more cost-e ective than others. In this article we ask some questions about measuring e ectiveness of software inspections and determining how much they really cost when their e ect on the rest of the development process is considered. Finding answers to these questions will enable us to improve the e ciency of software development.
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