10 Technology Programs that Empower Research
If you’re like me, you are constantly working on various projects, collaborating with others for ideas and feedback, writing papers, and trying to keep track of it all. This guide provides an overview of key tech programs that can be very effective for individuals actively engaged in research. It is mainly designed for Ph.D. students who are working on their dissertation, but many of these programs could be useful for professional settings. A number of the products listed do cost, while others are available for free. PCDN does not endorse any particular brand, app, or program. As we are always interested in keeping our resource guides up to date, please feel free to add comments or suggestions!
1. iAnnotate – This iPad app allows users to take PDF, Word, and PowerPoint documents and treat them like hard copies, with various tools. In addition to being able to mark up papers, insert comments (even via voice), and highlight, iAnnotate has the ability to link to DropBox and iCloud storage, making any document accessible even if it is not saved in your email or on your iPad. iAnnotate also allows users to have several documents open at once. The app costs $9.99 (for iPad only), but a version for Andriod will be coming soon.
2. DropBox – DropBox is an online tool that allows users to upload any content – documents, videos, photos, etc., and store them online. This allows users to access their content from any computer, smartphone, or tablet. Through DropBox, users are also able to share this content with others via email or sharing folders. DropBox gives users about 5GB of space for free, but has plans that range from $99- $499 annually (or from $9.99 – $49.99 monthly) for additional space.
3. iCloud – Similar to DropBox, the Cloud allows users to access content remotely. If you’re a Mac user, this is a great investment. iCloud automatically backs up all content from laptops to the iCloud. In addition, all iTunes purchases can also be made available on your phone or tablet. (Example: if you purchased a video via iTunes on your computer, but did not download it to your iPad, you can access the video through iTunes on your iPad.) This is excellent for research in that it allows users to make changes to documents on multiple devices.
4. Google Drive – This program is similar to DropBox and iCloud, but also allows users to share documents and entire folders. Users can share folders, programs, etc. with other individuals, groups or even to the public. You can also allow different people the options of commenting/editing papers, while others have read-only permissions. Google Drive also allows users to chat with one another while in Drive, and tracks every change that is made for 30 days (This is helpful if you delete a paragraph while editing but days later wish you had left it in.) Google Drive starts users with 5GB of free space, but users can buy between 25GB and 16TB of extra monthly storage (ranging from $2.49- $799.99 monthly).
5. Mendeley – Mendeley is an online collaboration website that is strictly for facilitating research. Users can connect to their professors or colleagues in a private group and see changes that are made to living documents (such as dissertations or articles submitted for publication). In addition, Mendeley tracks documents users open through the program and can generate bibliographies instantly, even from PDFs (which is one of the many functions that helps make Mendeley more attractive than Zotero, another online program that helps create bibliographies. Mendely is also available on tablets and smartphones). Mendeley users can also search its database and find millions of papers and articles. Once a document is open, users can annotate and highlight in the document to keep track of research ideas. Mendeley is free, and it is highly recommended for Ph.D. students working on their dissertations.
6. Nozbe – Nozbe allows users to communicate and work on projects in a collaborative manner. Nozbe is unique in that it syncs many programs (such as Endnote, Google Docs, DropBox, etc.) into one application that allows users to track, manage, and work on research projects and other tasks. If users are in a group working on a joint project, Nozbe will notify others when one user has made a change to the project or a message has been sent. Users can write notes/comments to one another about specific areas of the project, allowing for ease in communication. Nozbe has plans that range from $89.95 for one person – $449.95 for 20 people annually ($7.50 – $49.95 monthly)
7. Google Plus – Google+ Hangout is a great way to brainstorm with others (up to 10 people can be on camera), conduct interviews, and get feedback on research progress. Users can tape the Hangouts to re-watch them and obtain a transcript of what was said during the hangout. (Note: You will need to go through the transcript in order to ensure accuracy.) During the hangout, users can share documents and other media for editing, review, or summary. Users can also share the video via email, YouTube, Google+ or Facebook.
8. Evernote – Evernote is an amazing program that can store texts, notes, pictures, videos, emails, document, itineraries, maps, recipes, webpages in a central location. . Users can also share their “notes” with others, and the activity feed lets you know who viewed, changed, or added notes. Evernote is accessible from anywhere and has an app for the iPad, iPhone and Microsoft tablets. Evernote is free with the ability to upgrade to a $45 a year premium package, which gives users more storage space and more sharing options.
9. Dragon Speech Recognition Software – This software allows users to enter text via voice transcription. Users can also edit, open, and email documents by talking. The best thing about this program is the mobile apps. This allows users to turn their smartphones into a digital voice recorder, and Dragon can transcribe the dialogue or dictation when the user is back at the computer (Dragon can also transcribe audio files that are saved on computers from actual voice recorders). Dragon also learns the user’s abbreviations and spelling preferences (example: color vs. colour). Pricing for Dragon varies, but a teacher or student discount package is available for $129.99, and a simple version of the app is available for free.
10. VisiMap – Visimap is a program that allows users to track, plot, and diagram brainstorming, document planning, note-taking and other creative thinking processes. Users can download a free trail version of the software or buy it for $34.50.