The ideal solution to analyzing a few hundred verbatim responses to a survey has yet to be found. Most text analytic programs aren’t much help here – once trained, they shine at processing tens of thousands of verbatims, but they are not much help with 200 verbatims. Yet 200 verbatims is enough to require hours of manual effort.

No wonder then that word clouds remain a ubiquitous visualization tool for verbatim comments. They hit a sweet spot of providing a convenient summary of pages of text without requiring extensive manual coding: they are like the arithmetic mean of verbatims. They tell you something about the data, but leave a lot out.

Revelation has a free tool that adds back in another layer of data. Unlike other free word-cloud tools, which focus solely on providing you attractive static images, Revelation WordTree makes word clouds interactive: click on the selected word, and see each occurrence of it, as separate branches from a tree. For instance, the following is from a public study we conducted of consumers’ impressions of different industries.

Revelation WordTree screenshot

Clicking on the most commonly used word, people, shows a tree illustrating the word in context: under “people -> who ->” you can see “people who don’t feel like sorting out their taxes”, “people who need it”, “people who wouldn’t otherwise”.

It’s not just a way of visualizing the data. It’s a way of exploring the data. It helps you develop richer conclusions.

You can play with the first 300 or so verbatims from this particular data set to get a sense for how the tool works. Or “grow your own” word tree from one of your data sets at http://www.revelationglobal.com/wordtrees/.

Author Notes:

Researchscape International

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.