Academic Research Toolbox

Academic research is never easy. One has to spend a lot of time in front of a computer reading, analyzing and researching. Going over multiple sources and documents can take days. Multiple documents have to be properly organized, so that one can easily find what he or she needs and make sure that all information can be easily retrieved. Citations can be especially daunting, because sometimes students have to spend numerous hours in retrieving and organizing them, leaving less time for the actual research.


We have rounded up a collection of tools that will undoubtedly help you save time in your research and increase the quality of your work. Good planning is essential for good research and that is why you need to arm yourself with the best tools possible.

 1. BibMe

BibMe is a free, automatic citation generator. It was developed at the Carnegie Mellon University in 2007 and has gained a lot of popularity since. With this tool you can organize your citations and references using MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian formatting. It has a large external database which allows it to generate citations pretty quickly.

2. EasyBib

EasyBib is also an excellent citation tool. What makes it amazing is that it offers web apps, and Android and iOS apps which can allow you to generate citations from your smartphone.  For example, you can scan the ISBN barcodes of books and get an MLS citation format for free. Other formats are for premium users.

3. Zotero

Zotero is an excellent research assistant. It can be used as a Firefox extension or standalone computer application. It is available for Linux, Windows and Mac users. With Zotero you can create your own personal and customized library. In it you can add PDFs, images, audio and video files, snapshots of web pages, and much more. The library is highly searchable, so you won’t have any trouble finding what you need, no matter how much you put into it. Also, you can work on a project together in a group if need be.

4. Academia

This is an academic research network community. It is something like a professional social network. Academics can create their online profiles and link them to their publications. Actually, the system does that automatically as soon as you create your academic profile. Users can create and share their research with others and also get involved in discussions and interactions with fellow academics.  All in all, it is a great way to build your professional academic profile and meet other researchers with similar interests and share your ideas with them.

5. Google Scholar

It is impossible to talk about academic research without mentioning Google scholar. Google Scholar is Google’s search engine that searches only academic publications, working papers and books. If you want to search for a specific publication, work, or topic, you can use Google Scholar and avoid all non-academic sources in search results.

6. EndNote Web

EndNote Web is a web-based reference organizer with collaboration possibilities.  Users can collect and store their references online, create bibliographies and access them anytime, anywhere. Interacting with other users is also a possibility

7. Qiqqa

Qiqqa is an award-winning research management software. What is most important is that it is free. It allows you to keep a collection of your PDF documents and publications and it has a built-in PDF reader with amazing search, annotation and OCR capabilities.  It has a smart way of analyzing connections between papers, which significantly reduces the amount of time needed in reading. All information can be stored in a cloud as well. This tool also allows citation and integrates directly with MS Word to make it easier.

8. RefWorks

RefWorks is another amazing tool which helps you organize all kinds of information much more easily. It is the perfect tool for writing and researching since it enables you to work smarter and be more productive on the whole by keeping organized and focused.

9. Memonic 

Memonic is an online notebook in which users can collaborate. Users can clip web content or add notes directly from emails. The can also add MS Word and PDF files to the collaborative notebook as well.

10. KnightCite

KnightCite is an online tool that enables you to create citations very easily and effectively. It is fast and you can create several references at once, making it very convenient if you have a lot of repeated references in your research paper.

11. Mendeley

We already talked about Mendeley, a great PDF and paper organizer with multiple other functions like reference management, annotation, note taking and much, much more, but it won’t hurt to mention this great tool again.

12. Evernote

This is a very well-known and highly used note taking tools available for all platforms. You can use it to take note of your ideas, write down things you hear, save noted websites, links, and all type of information in one place and have access to it from both desktop computer and mobile smartphone. Data is always synchronized and organized in a manner which helps you to never forget anything or leave any important information out.

13. Citelighter

Citelighter is a new tool that allows you to take notes and information from web sources. It helps you to take notes, create bibliographies and then share and promote your research after you have completed it.

14. Session Managers

Most research these days is done on the Internet and through by browsers. That is why it is always handy to have the possibility of saving active browser sessions for later. For example, if you are investigating one topic and have 5 tabs on that topic opened, you can save those tabs for later viewing. Session managers for Chrome and Firefox are available.

15. Flux

Flux is a small tool which is not used for research, but it can help us keep our vision and sanity when spending hours glaring at a computer screen while putting a research project together.

16. ReadCube

RedCube is a great software application that allows you to sort all of the research papers that you have. You can manage, search, and sort all PDFs by folders. You can read them, take notes, and add annotations. The software also gives you recommended articles based on things that you read. It is definitely useful and a great tool for saving time when archiving and trying to locate old papers.

17. DocEar

DocEar is a pretty powerful open source software solution for managing academic literature and annotations. You can create a project, import a list of PDF files connected to a project, and then start working on it by using a unique mind-mapping approach. You can tag PDFs based on the topic or a variety of other ways, such as writing notes and explanations, creating concept maps and much more. This tool makes writing an academic paper very easy. It can also help you to extract annotations from PDF files. There is also a literature recommendation system, and there is a MS Word add-on as well.

Have in mind that this software can look extremely complex and hard to learn at first, but after some time you’ll realize that you can’t live without it.

18. Papers  

Papers is an app available for iOS and Windows 8. It can help you to organize all your research and current readings in a very efficient way when you are compiling all of the sources that you are using to write your research papers.

19. Researchgate

Researchgate is a kind of academic community where you can get help on all sorts of issues, and also make your research more visible. You need an academic email address to be able to join in. This makes it easy to network with people who come from academia. One of the best parts of the community is the questions and answers section, where you can discuss various topics of interest with other students and colleagues.

20. Colwiz

Colwiz is an excellent citation and publication manager. It has a tremendous database of research literature and can help you discover interesting publications on your desired topic. It is available as a desktop software or web app. You can also create groups to be able to have discussions and conversions with others and to share ideas with each other and collaborate on research.

21. Textcite

Textcite is a small open source tool, but can be very useful in some situations. It helps users to organize and comment on citations from texts. It includes some great features for helping you organized yourself better and stay productive while you research and write.

22. VUE

VUE is definitely a good recommendation for research paper needs. It is also open source and offers you the ability to organize your research in a visual way by using a mind map. You can add files, URLs, images, text and quotes into your mind map. This allows you to organize and tag your thoughts on your reading and research in a very effective way. It is similar to DocEar, but a bit easier to master.

23. Utopiadocs

Utopiadocs is a specialized academic PDF reader. It is better than most other PDF readers for this task, because it is specialized and accustomed to researcher needs and helps you to find and manage references better. You are able to organize your current reading better and place it into context with your paper while easily accessing more articles directly online. You can also use it to change citation styles easily

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