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Code smells are symptoms of poor design and implementation choices, which might hinder comprehension, increase code complexity and fault-proneness and decrease maintainability of software systems. The aim of our study was to perform a triangulation of bibliometric and thematic analysis on code smell literature production. The search was performed on Scopus (Elsevier, Netherlands) database using the search string “code smells” which resulted in 442 publications. The Go-to statement was the first bad code smells identified in software engineering history in 1968. The literature production trend has been positive. The most productive countries were the United States, Italy and Brazil. Eight research themes were identified: Managing software maintenance, Smell detection-based software refactoring, Architectural smells, Improving software quality with multi-objective approaches, Technical debt and its instance, Quality improvement/assurance with mining software repositories, Programming education, Integrating the concepts of anti-pattern, design defects and design smells. Some research gaps also emerged, namely, New uncatalogued smell identification; Smell propagation from architectural, design, code to test, and other possible smells; and Identification of good smells. The results of our study can help code smell researchers and practitioners understand the broader aspects of code smells research and its translation to practice.



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