In teaching History in Practice, I’ve used JSTOR Text Analyzer, a research tool built by JSTOR Labs, to help students hone their researching and editing abilities. The easiest way to describe Text Analyzer is that it lets you upload files you’ve read or are working on, then uses the data in this file to provide additional reading recommendations.
There is a lot that I like about this tool, but I don’t think that the JSTOR Text Analyzer can be taught without a discussion of its flaws. Other scholars before me have noticed that its search results tend to feature works by authors who are overwhelmingly male and white. The Analyzer reveals what scholars have already argued: that algorithms don’t eliminate bias.
Is JSTOR Text Analyzer a flawless tool? No. But it offers teachers a new way to show students research strategies. My students need that guidance on finding appropriate material, and they need to be encouraged to find that material early on in the semester. If it helps them to begin thinking about how material gets digitized, catalogued, and displayed, even better.
Direct to JSTOR Text Analyzer