Editing Assistance

Overview

     Editing assistance softwares are programs that check the grammar of a writing piece. Grammar-correcting software provides corrections, suggestions, and tips in much the same manner as a spellchecker. Each of these programs offers plagiarism-detection and proofreading functions, as well as training games to improve a user’s knowledge of English grammar and its rules. According to each product’s own website, all use artificial intelligence and are developed by experts in linguistics. Much like spellcheckers, these tools are most useful for proficient and skilled writers to search for typographical errors; the errors targeted by typical commercial proofreading tools do not include those aspects of a second language that are hardest to learn for new english language learners (Leacock et al., 2010). While most of these products claim to be useful for students who struggle with grammar or who are new english language learners, only one of the major programs (Editor) offers further guidance for users who are English Language Learners. Furthermore, some research shows that the method most of thee softwares use for identifying errors suffer from penalizing grammatical edits that are correct but not in the gold standard therefore over-identifying “errors” (Napoles, Sakaguchi & Tetreault, 2016).

     While all these programs offer grammar editing functionings, each has their own unique package of extra features. Some offer tools such as word-prediction, built-in thesauruses, sentence-rephrasers, and text-to-speech features.. Some software focus more on evaluation, such as PaperRater, whose primary emphasis is on predicting a grade for a particular piece of writing, based on age/grade referenced standards for vocabulary, accuracy, originality, and sentence length. Some programs can be integrated into other programs and automatically process text across a variety of programs and browsers.

     All four have received positive reviews from users, but none has received much experimental analysis. It is worth noting that none of these four programs was able to successfully correct, or consistently identify, complex errors, and none was able to correct all simple errors (subject-verb agreement, run-on sentences, verb tenses, word choice) in sentences that were sufficiently complex or long.

     Several other grammar-checkers exist, and most are very similar to these. A number of other websites advertising alternate grammar checkers offer identical products under different names.

Research Rating: The above review is largely based on theory and has yet to be validated through peer-reviewed research.

Advantages:

  • Can help proficient language users edit documents.

Disadvantages:

  • More challenging to use when user has low english proficiency or significant writing skill deficits.

 

To Consider

  • May be more useful for typical users who are not English language learners and do not have a learning disability.

Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed. 

$ - Under $5

$$ - Between $6 and $50

$$$ - Between $51 and $250

$$$$ - Over $250

References

 

Leacock, C., Chodorow, M., Gamon, M.,and Tetreault, J. (2010.) Automated Grammatical Error Detection for Language Learners. Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

Napoles, C., Sakaguchi, K., and Tetreault, J. (2016) There’s No Comparison: Reference-less Evaluation Metrics in Grammatical Error Correction

Thiesmeyer, E. and Thiesmeyer, J. “Comparing Grammar Checkers: Holding Grammar Scammers' Feats to the Fire.” (2014) http://serenity-software.com/pages/comparisons.html Accessed November, 2017.

Written by Harrison McNaughtan, Last Revision May 2018

Academic Intervention Lab

Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, ON M5S 1V6, Canada
     Email: academicinterventionlab@utoronto.ca

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