Automatic software refactoring: a systematic literature review

Abdulrahman Ahmed Bobakr Baqais, Mohammad Alshayeb*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Refactoring a software artifact is an embedded task in the maintenance phase of the software life cycle. To reduce the time and effort required for this task, researchers proposed methods to automate the software refactoring process at the design and code levels. In this paper, we conducted a systematic literature review of papers that suggest, propose, or implement an automated refactoring process. Using different phases, setting several quality measures, and snowballing, only 41 papers passed to the last stage to be analyzed and reviewed. We observe an increase in the number of papers that propose automatic refactoring. The results show that while most of the papers discuss code refactoring, only a few recent papers are focused on model refactoring. Search-based refactoring is gaining more popularity, and several researchers have used it to perform refactoring in a quick and efficient manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-502
Number of pages44
JournalSoftware Quality Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the support of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in the development of this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Automatic refactoring
  • Refactoring
  • Search-based
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


Dive into the research topics of 'Automatic software refactoring: a systematic literature review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this