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5 Tools for Organizing Your Research

22 November 2016

When you’re doing research there is already more than enough stuff for you to keep track of. You have to remember who said what and in what paper. You have to remember where you saw what statistic and how it was arrived at. And worst of all, you’ve often got to remember all these things for months, or even years so that you can recall it when you need it.

With all that being stuffed into your head, you don’t really want to have to remember which articles you read, what peer reviewed journal they were in and what year they were published. That’s just asking too much! Fortunately, you no longer have to.

There are plenty of tools out there to help you organize your papers so that you can not only recall them easily but even access them with a bare minimum of clicks.

Zotero
Take Zotero. This free program allows you to easily collect, organize, cite and share the data you find online. The power of the tool is that it automatically senses the content that you’ve got in your web browser and from there allows you to save it with a single click.

It then collects everything that you’ve saved in one searchable interface so that it can be easily recovered at some later point in time. You can put in anything from PDFs to videos and whatever is in between.

Mendeley
Mendeley is pretty well known. That’s because it’s a fantastic platform to save your pdfs and other research papers. It might be a bit more limited than Zotero, but it makes up for that by being exceptionally good at what it does, as it allows you to build a digital library of everything you’ve read.

What’s more, you can use it to highlight specific bits in texts that you find important and then it will sync all of that over your different platforms. Another great thing it does is take the abstracts of the different texts that you’ve collected and put them straight into the search window, so that you can quickly check if that’s the document you’re looking for without having to first open the damned thing.

BenuBird PDF
Another good tool to check out is BenuBird PDF. This is a part windows explorer replacement and part collection manager. It really is quite neat, as it takes a group of files and sorts them into a collection for you, making it many times easier for you to find whatever you’re looking for.

You can search for data in many different formats (or only one format at a time) you can zip together important documents and lots more. It’s a great choice if you’re one of those people who collects dozens of articles a week and now has a library so big that even scrolling through it takes several minutes.

EndNote
EndNote lets you do many of the other things that the other software packages mentioned on here can do, but it has one nice little feature that really makes it killer. What’s that, you ask? It creates bibliographies for you.

As long as you use one of the more common citation styles, it becomes immensely easy to throw a citation into your paper. All you’ve got to do is click on the endnote button in word and indicate the article you’d like to add then endnote does the rest, right down from the original citation where you just put the link to adding the citation correctly formatted and in the right space in your bibliography.

It really is a lifesaver.

Citeulike
Citeulike is citation storing software as well as a kind of stripped down social media platform. It is easy to share citations with other readers, as well as see what other people that you know are reading the articles that you’re reading.

In this way, you can find out what the real movers and shakers in the industry are reading. Provided, of course, that they actually use the piece of software.

Of course, it’s also a library and a storage space, so even if most of your colleagues are not on the platform, you can still use it as a regular storage place, much like the other packages we’ve discussed above.

Last words
Keeping everything organized while you’re doing research can be a real pain. At the same time, it is also utterly essential as otherwise you’re bound to lose countless articles – and you never know when you might want to find something back that you read six months ago.

For that reason, make sure that you find the right tool for you and make sure that you use it religiously. Your future self will most certainly thank you for it, as instead of having to spend days finding back that one crucial article, you simply hit the search key on your respective piece of software and find it a few keystrokes away.

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