Scrivener

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I never quite appreciated the phrase ‘lengthy document’ until I started trying to draft part of my thesis. I’ve always felt pretty confident
with academic writing and structuring but suddenly I was no longer
looking at putting together a long essay or dissertation but an 80,000
word beast! Scrivener has allowed me to bring some sort of organisation
into the chaos. My usual tact was to use multiple Google docs however
just one section of my thesis seemed too long to contain in one document
and I needed to be able to flit about, reorganise and edit as needed.

Scrivener
allows you to break your document into chunks, drag them around, put
them back together and break them apart again. You can move between your
notes, research papers and the document you’re writing with ease, with
all on display if required using the quick reference panes. You can
create outlines of your entire project which you can move around as well as labelling and
tracking parts of your work. There is also a live word count for the
document you’re working on, you can see the word count for
your draft as a whole and you can set targets for a sessions work or a particular
section.

When you reach the point that you want to export your
work into one document the options available are sure to cover your
needs!

Now usually I wouldn’t recommend a tool that costs however
I’ve included this for two reasons! (Other than the fact it’s awesome).
1) You can have a 30 day trial – which is 30 days of use not 30 days
from when you first download. This could be enough for you depending on
how much you have done so far and what you want to use Scrivener for. 2)
I only intended to go for the trial and have found it so useful I’ll be
purchasing … anything that can keep me sane whilst composing this
thesis is worth it!

Draw.io

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So
this has been around for a while now but still really good for quick,
easy diagramming. No need to register / log-in and your diagrams can be
saved to your machine, Google drive, OneDrive or Dropbox. The diagrams /
images you create can be exported. There are a large number of graphics
/ shapes to choose from in order to build your diagram / flow chart or
whatever it is you need and all for free!

Mendeley

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After
trying many different reference management tools I keep returning to
Mendeley. It syncs well between all my devices – essential seeing as I
flit between my PC, Mac, iPad and android phone. It’s easy to drag my
documents in allowing me to view them quickly if I need to and I can
annotate or highlight them as needed. I find my references are really
easy to organise, search, sort into folders and attach notes to.
Although I haven’t utilised the networking and social side to Mendeley
yet it does allow you to search for other articles, join public groups
in various subject areas and build your own online presence. Personally I
don’t currently want this from my reference management software however
I may go and play one day! My only disappointment currently is only
being able to have three people in a group to collaborate and work on
papers. To be fair this isn’t a situation I find myself in often but it
felt like an unnecessary restriction if you wanted to use this for group
reference management.

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