Hate to inject some data into this polemic, but a paper at ICSE this year 
studied this very topic.

Salman, Misirli, and Juristo: Are Students Representatives of Professionals in 
Software Engineering Experiments?
Most of the experiments in software engineering employ students as subjects. 
This raises concerns about the realism of the results acquired through students 
and adaptability of the results to software industry.  Aim: We compare students 
and professionals to understand how well students represent professionals as 
experimental subjects in SE research. Method:The comparison was made in the 
context of two test-driven development experiments conducted with students in 
an academic setting and with professionals in a software organization. We 
measured the code quality of several tasks implemented by both subject groups 
and checked whether students and professionals perform similarly in terms of 
code quality metrics.  Results: Except for minor differences, neither of the 
subject groups is better than the other. Professionals produce larger, yet less 
complex, methods when they use their traditional development approach, whereas 
both subject groups perform similarly when they apply a new approach for the 
first time.  Conclusion: Given a carefully scoped experiment on a development 
approach that is new to both students and professionals, similar performances 
are observed. Further investigation is necessary to analyze the effects of 
subject demographics and level of experience on the results of SE experiments.


> On Jun 15, 2015, at 6:55 AM, Derek M Jones <de...@knosof.co.uk> wrote:
> Richard,
>> Concerning student subjects in SE experiments:
>> people use the subjects they can afford.  If you
> Then perhaps research based on these papers should come
> with a health warning that the work only exists to increase
> the authors paper count so they can get promoted and has no
> connection with industrial practice.

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