Whether you’re wading through papers, fully immersed in writing or going through one of those ‘processing’ phases, tools to support research are always welcome … aren’t they?

Well actually, a lot of the time I’ve found that no, they’re not welcome, at least not right now. Often they are the wrong tool at the wrong time or it’s far too in depth for what I need or it feels like the learning curve would be too steep etc etc. You have to look though, because occasionally a gem comes along and below I’ve shared a couple of tools that I’ve found straight forward, easy to use and above all incredibly helpful!

Google Keep

https://keep.google.com/

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This has completely replaced my notebook for those random thoughts or must read texts that come up day to day. With the ability to keep notes, to do lists that you can check off, leave voice memos, add images, all on the go from your phone / tablet / laptop or desktop (basically anything you can access the net from) I have instantly been more organised with my note gathering.

Notes and checklists can be colour coded and the search facility means even if you chuck loads in there you can find what you’re after – text that appears in images is included within the search. And, if you’re brain is full (or you’re just plain forgetful) you can set reminders based on time or location to any of your notes.

If you live in fear of losing your notebook then fear no more! Google Keep is saved in ‘the cloud’ and unlike a notebook, you can share & collaborate with others on your notes. From taking pictures of the cover of books/journals to sharing notes re: upcoming conferences (with a reminder set for submission dates) I’m finding Google Keep increasingly useful.

ResearchGate

https://www.researchgate.net

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Research can sometimes feel like a lonely pursuit yet just scratch at the surface of one of the ‘social’ networks for researchers and you can find others who are as equally enthusiastic as you about your research topic, articles so current they haven’t reached publication yet and ask questions to others in your field. ResearchGate enables you to do all of this (and more). Whilst it can feel tedious setting up yet another account on a social network (LinkedIn – yep, Academia.edu – yep, Twitter – yep, Facebook – ugh, yep) it does seem as though ResearchGate will actually aid your research with searchable publications and questions posed that get answered by the community. I was completely converted after coming across a couple of articles, due to be published soon, by authors that I have been ‘following’.

LaTex

http://latex-project.org/intro.html

So, you may have seen journals or conferences stating a preference for submissions in LaTex format and wondered what on earth it means, or perhaps you got as far as glancing at it and have been put off by the look of articles in LaTex format. However, don’t be scared! It actually saves loads of time formatting documents in Word (or other text-processing software) and means the people receiving your work will be able to convert it into exactly the format they’re after. Often you are provided with a LaTex template by the conference / journal which means all you have to do is enter your text.

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