This recipe is a guide to developing a review for a text analysis tool that will enable other users to decide whether that tool is suitable for their research tasks.
- A text analysis tool you wish to review
- A word processor or other composition program
- Your computer's screen capture function
- A platform to host the review, such as TAPoR 3.0
- The tool you wish to review
- Key characteristics about the tool, such as:
- what type of tool it is / what the tool is meant to do (ex: is it a specific-purpose tool, or does it have wider applications?)
- the tool’s notable features
- the tool’s intended audience
- who developed the tool
- requirements for use (ex: which operating systems it supports, whether one needs an account on the tool’s website, whether it must be installed on your computer, whether it’s free or requires purchase, any applicable licenses, etc.)
- The tool’s strengths (what it does particularly well) and limitations (where it falls short). This may include comparison with similar or related tools you are familiar with.
These steps are the building blocks of your review, and a good review will answer the questions behind them within it. Your final tool review should
- Introduce the tool to potential users
- Present its most important features
- Discuss how well it fulfils its purpose
- Answer questions potential users may have (the who, what, where, how and why of the tool)
- Draw a conclusion about the tool’s value to its intended audience
It is also helpful to frame writing a tool review as the process of anticipating questions other users might have about the tool. For example:
- How quickly can you get the tool up and running? Is there a lengthy install process, or other setup processes? How much room does the user have to customize elements, append custom code, or otherwise adapt it to their particular needs? Is it well documented or supported if users need help?
- How easy is the tool to use? Is the interface intuitive? What kind of learning curve can the user expect? Do you need to know a programming language to get the most out of it? Are there any obvious limitations or bugs? Does it lag under certain circumstances, such as feeding in a large text or multiple texts? Does it demand input in a specific format or can it handle a wide variety?
- Can you recommend this tool? Does it fit the needs of the stated audience? Are there any unique or particularly outstanding features? Any notable drawbacks? Where can you go for more information about the tool?
- Would it help to include screen captures? Can the feature under discussion be better discussed with an example screen from the tool? Would a visual example of the tool’s output assist the reader’s understanding?