Monday, April 5, 2010

Paper Rater: Free Online Grammar Checker, Proofreader

So I stumbled upon a writeup about this site.  I'm glad I stumbled upon a writeup and not the actual homepage.  It is unlikely I would have stuck around given how cheesy/scamy the homepage looks.  I gave it a try with my two papers I've written for my English Comp I class.  I was pleased with the results.  It gave some good results.  Here's a screenshot of its analysis of my first paper:

On the left it gives the text with spelling errors (red), grammar errors (green), and word choice (blue) highlighted.  Clicking on the errors will give a suggestion as well as the possibility to explain it.  Almost all the word choice errors were "complex expressions", or overly complicated terms.  I wouldn't change most of them, but it is nice to at least think about it.  As an example when I click on 'witnessed' and click explain this is the popup text:
Complex Expression
Try a simpler word for witnessed
Where possible you should use a simple word over a complex word. Simple words are easier to read and let your readers focus on your ideas.
Replace witnessed with
    * saw
Like I said I wouldn't change this, but some others I may.

On the right is a info box with various stats about your text.  It provides eight stats: Originality / Plagiarism Detection, Spelling, Grammar, Word Choice, Style (Word Usage), Style (Sentence Length), Style (Transitional Phrases), and Vocabulary Words.

Mine was detected as plagiarism because I published it on the Highpointers blog.  Spelling, grammar, and word choice each just briefly explain the highlights.  It would be nice in the future if they listed the total number of possible errors.  The last four are the interesting ones.  Word usage provides the following stats:
word usage:
verb types:
to be (114) auxiliary (54)
types as % of total:
conjunctions 5% (142) pronouns 12% (322) prepositions 13% (336)
nominalizations 0% (11)

sentence beginnings:
pronoun (41) interrogative pronoun (1) article (16)
subordinating conjunction (14) conjunction (1) preposition (15)
As well as a few paragraphs explaining what it means.

Sentence length is visible in the screenshot, these are the stats provided by it:
sentence info:
10176 characters
2601 words, average length 3.91 characters = 1.23 syllables
127 sentences, average length 20.5 words
33% (43) short sentences (at most 15 words)
12% (16) long sentences (at least 30 words)
1 paragraphs, average length 127.0 sentences
1% (2) questions
63% (81) passive sentences
longest sent 44 wds at sent 100; shortest sent 6 wds at sent 52
On everything I submitted it only detected one paragraph.  Both when I used proper 'indentation + no extra line' english style, and when I used the 'internet no indentation + extra line' style.

Next, there is transitional phrases, which simply rates your usage of words like 'however', 'then', 'next', and 'finally'.

Last, it gives insight into your vocab usage.  This seems like it just has a dictionary of words it considers fancy and looks to see how many of them you use.

Overall, it seems to be useful.  I'll be using it on future papers, and possibly even longer blog posts.  It is worth noting there was a bit of controversy in the comments section of that writeup about the TOS.  The TOS gave total control of your paper to the website.  The site claims to have fixed it (they responded in the comments) and people seemed satisfied.  Obviously, there is no way I'm reading a TOS myself.  It's probably a good idea to not submit your super secret novel to the site.

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