You are not writing the papers for your clients using a typewriter, are you? Pen, notebook, and Microsoft Word are no better. There are so many perfect tools for researchers you can utilize while writing! So why not take full advantage of them? Today we’ll share seven of our favorites. Try them out if you haven’t already, and let us know what you think.
It’s an all-purpose research and writing tool that will help you evaluate and organize as many sources as necessary. You can save pertinent quotes and full papers, structure them to form a rough outline of the research. Citavi also saves a lot of time by creating proper citations using your preferred citation style. You can paste them directly into the paper along with necessary quotations. Citavi Add-In for Microsoft Word accelerates the process of creating a bibliography, while Citavi Publication Assistant is compatible with other writing software, like OpenOffice Writer and LaTeX editors. First 100 citations are free, and you will need to upgrade to premium after this limit is exceeded.
This software is user-friendly and straightforward, and it can be the researcher’s best friend. When you download PDFs of dozens of sources, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Instead of dumping them to your hard drive, add them to Mendeley, and the program will organize them for you. It will annotate the authors, titles, and other publishing info. Mendeley also synchronizes the files to the cloud, so you can access them from different computers without the fear of losing your preliminary research if your laptop crashes. There are OpenOffice and Microsoft Words extensions that allow you to insert citations directly from your sources using the correct citation style.
If you conduct most of your research online, Zotero can turn into your personal assistant. This software will accompany you on your Internet surfing and help you store necessary information into your private library for later use. The best thing about Zotero is that it can save all types of files, from PDF to images and website snapshots and convert them into a searchable interface. It takes a couple of keystrokes to locate information within the mound of texts and files you have previously collected.
If you have never tried anything other than OpenOffice Writer or Microsoft Word, Scrivener will be an eye-opener. It’s not just a digital typewriter; it is a full-blown word processor. You can write down separate notes, thoughts, and ideas, organize them and locate connections. Virtual cards can be structured and used to form a single text. The interface is intuitive, so there is no steep learning curve to start using Scrivener. And after you are done with your paper, export the fully formatted text into a DOC file to submit to your client.
Professionals around the world use Trello to organize their workflow and entire lives. It’s a virtual pinboard you can use as a to-do list or as a word processor the same way as Scrivener. Create separate boards for different writing projects, use several columns to organize your sources, ideas, drafts and completed parts of the paper. There are dozens of use cases to show you the ways Trello can be employed, so get inspired if you can’t think of the best way to incorporate this software into your writing routine. Trello is so easy to use, you won’t believe how efficient it can be.
Did you ever get to redo all your hard work because your computer had crashed? It’s not fun, especially if you miss the deadline and get fined. Religiously backup all your research to the cloud to prevent such problems. Synchronization between different computers, tablets, and smartphones allows you to write the paper on the go, anywhere you are.
Dropbox is easy to use, as it synchronizes all data in its folder on your computer to other devices and cloud storage. It also allows you to transfer large files that can’t be sent via email. Google Drive has a simple web interface and the power of Google Docs at your fingertips. You can use this software to write the paper in the cloud and enjoy instant saving to prevent any loss of data in case the electricity goes out, or your hard drive crashes in the middle of a sentence.
Of course, there are many more writing and research tools you can use. We have chosen these seven to show you how proper software can make the life of an academic writer so much easier. Share your favorite writing tools, and we will include them in our next article on useful software for freelance writers.