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Objective: As a variety of visualization tools become available to librarians and researchers, it can be challenging to select a tool that is robust and flexible enough to provide the desired visualization outcomes for work or personal use. In this article, the authors provide guidance on several freely available tools, and offer a rubric for use in evaluating visualization tools.

Methods: A rubric was generated to assist the authors in assessing the selected six freely available visualization tools. Each author analyzed three tools, and discussed the differences, similarities, challenges, and successes of each.

Results: Of the six visualization tools, two tools emerged with high marks. The authors found that the rubric was a successful evaluation tool, and facilitated discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the six selected visualization pieces of software.

Conclusions: Of the six different visualization tools analyzed, all had different functions and features available to best meet the needs of users. In a situation where there are many options available, and it is difficult at first glance to determine a clear winner, a rubric can be useful in providing a method to quickly assess and communicate the effectiveness of a tool.


visualization tool, rubric


The authors would like to acknowledge the foundation for this article was participation in the Data Science and Visualization Institute for Librarians. Both authors attended DSVIL in 2017, and without this introduction, would not have had the shared experience necessary to pursue writing an article.

Corresponding Author

Thea Atwood, Lederle Graduate Research Center, 740 North Pleasant Street, A273 - Science and Engineering Library, Amherst, MA 01003; tpatwood@umass.edu

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Copyright Atwood & Rebecca Reznik-Zellen © 2018

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

AppendixA_1122.pdf (487 kB)
Appendix A: The Visualization Software Evaluation Rubric

AppendixB_1122.pdf (495 kB)
Appendix B: List of tools

AppendixC_1122.pdf (890 kB)
Appendix C: Images of data visualizations from each tool