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Tips for selecting software

DiRT (Digital Research Tools) has a new home! Please visit Bamboo DiRT to explore this excellent collection of research tools.

Overwhelmed by the number of digital research tools that are available?  Here are some common-sense factors to consider as you select tools to use for your research projects:

 

  • Determine your needs.  What do you need the software to do? Why? What desired features are most important?
  • Features:  Does the tool do what you need it to do? How well? What does it not do?  How important is that?
  • Performance: Is the software buggy? Sluggish? Does it make you more or less efficient?
  • Cost: How much does the tool cost?  Are there ongoing maintenance fees?  Is it worth it? How is it priced in comparison to its competitors?
  • Support: How good is the user support?  Are there active user forums? Are training materials available?
  • User community:  Have a lot of people adopted the tool? How enthusiastic are they? What do reviewers say about the tool?
  • Sustainability: Web 2.0 tools come and go.  The developers could end support, or change their business model and splash ads for diet pills all over your pages hosted on their site. Is there reason to believe that this tool will be around for a while--for instance, is it associated with a  healthy company or research group?  Have a lot of folks adopted the tool?
  • Export/import: Can you easily get data into and out of the tool in standard formats such as plain text and XML? If the tool is no longer supported by its developer, will you be stuck?

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