Criteria:As we revitalize this site over the coming months, it is an opportune time to provide the review guidelines we use. As we conduct each review we ask ourselves the following questions.
- Is the science correct?
- Does the app provide a sophisticated, effective and creative view?
- Does the software offer good value for cost?
- Is the interface engaging and intuitive?
- Does the app fill a valuable niche in the ecosystem of existing software?
- Is there evidence of validation by the developer?
- Do negative aspects such as intrusive advertisements or update requests interfere?
- 10: This software is outstanding. We see few areas that could be improved.
- 8-9: Excellent. We strongly recommend the software.
- 6-7: Good. If the software is appropriate to your needs, you should consider it, but there are aspects that could be improved.
- 4-5: Marginal. While some users may find the app useful, there are significant concerns.
- 0-3: Not Recommended. Issues are so significant that we do not recommend purchase.
What We Review:
- We review apps that help scientists or the general public do science, as well as apps that enhance learning of scientific ideas. That is, we review apps aimed at scientists, citizen scientists, the general public and children.
- We only provide reviews after we have fully engaged with the software, never on the basis of press releases or other secondary data. In most cases we only write reviews after an extended period of use, since first impressions are sometimes misleading.
- If the review is of an app intended for children, we only write the review after we have evaluated the app when used with children.
- While we are not opposed to receiving a code from developers for an app, we will never agree to give a positive review for such consideration. If we have received a code for free access, this is indicated in the review. Most reviews are on software that we have purchased at the normal price.
- While we review apps in all disciplines, the reader should keep in mind that my main scientific expertise is in physics, astronomy, space science, atmospheric science, educational research and electronics.
- My background includes M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in physics, as well as a B.Ed. (and some M.Ed. level individual courses). I have won multiple local, regional and national teaching awards, as well as a regional award for science communication. I have extensive solar system astrophysics research over many decades, and also have conducted research in science teaching, physics education research, informal science learning and educational technology. I have taught at both the high school and university levels, as well as in a teacher preparation program where I taught science methodology and educational technology.