Academic research requires a lot of dedication and diligence. From reading the literature to writing up the first draft of your paper, engaging in academic research means that you are in an ongoing process of learning and growth.
You start by identifying a problem you want to solve, based on this problem you highlight the knowledge gap your research will fill in, you create and apply an ad hoc methodological approach that outlines the theories and methods to use to collect and analyze data.
Web technologies can be of tremendous help in this regard. There are numerous academic research tools that can help you in each stage of the research process.
In this post, I share with you a collection of some of the best academic research tools to try out. These are all tools I use in my own academic research. I know there are several other academic research tools that are missing from this list.
If you are interested in exploring more books about research and methodology check my other blog titled Selected Reads. Here is a sample of posts I shared there on the topic of research:
1. Academic search engines
As an academic researcher, you will obviously be doing a lot of online search. Mainstream search engines such as Google or Bing won’t be of much help. What you need is access to academic search engines.
- Google Scholar
- Semantic Scholar
I have already reviewed each of these academic search engines. You can access and read more about them in this post: Google Scholar Alternatives for Academics and Student Researchers.
2. Best websites to find academic books
There are various online platforms that offer access to academic books and some of them are free. Popular among these platforms are Internet Archive, Google Books, and Open Library.
Open Library offers information about books and provides links to help users search for, discover, borrow, and read these materials from the book collections in Internet Archive. Open Library also links to WorldCat allowing users to easily find books that they can borrow from nearby libraries.
As for Google Books, this is a service that allows you to search one of the most comprehensive indexes of full-text books in the world. You can use Google Books to ‘read, download, or preview books on Google Books.
For links and more sources I invite you to check: 12 best websites that offer free ebooks and audiobooks.
3. Citation generation tools
Standing on the shoulders of other researchers and citing their work in your papers is something you will be doing throughout your academic career and beyond. In fact, proper citation of sources is a skill that anyone producing any kind of writing should master.
4. Citation and reference managers
Generating accurate citations is only part of the picture, the other part is to be able to organize these references in ways that make it easy for you to retrieve them later.
5. Writing tools for research
When it comes to writing your research papers, you need to choose a powerful writing platform that offers features to help not only with the actual writing but also with things such as planning, brainstorming, collaborating, and formatting. There are different writing tools I recommend in this regard.
Starting with Google Docs, this is definitely a great option to consider. I used it to write some of the chapters of my doctoral thesis and I only switched to Microsoft Word because my supervisor likes the track feature in Word which, as it turned out, proved extremely helpful.
Google Docs is pretty basic yet it offers powerful features, all for free. From generating table of contents to co-editing and collaborating with others on joint writing projects, Docs offers all the functionalities you need to write your paper . However, for formatting your paper, Docs is not the best place to do it.
- Here is How to Use Google Docs to Write Your Book
- Word tutorials: Check out Smart Student YouTube Channel. She has tons of amazing video tutorials covering MLA, Harvard, and APA styles referencing.
- Scrivener Vs Word, video by Kindlepreneur
6. Presentation tools
Presentations are part and parcel of your work as an academic researcher. You will be creating tons of presentations to share in conferences, webinars, and other professional meetings.
All of these platforms are simple and easy to use. They offer various pre-made presentation templates and allow you to customize them the way you want.
7. Video creation tools
As is the case with creating presentations, creating videos is another skill you need to learn to use in your work as an academic researcher. There are numerous video creation tools that enable you to create professional videos using simply a drag and drop interface.
Some of the best video creating and editing tools I recommend for academic researchers include Wevideo, Flexclip, Veed, Camtasia, Kapwing, and Canva video editor. For recording your computer screen and creating screencasts and step-by-step tutorials I recommend using any of these tools: Loom, Snagit, Screencastify, or Screenomatic. For more video resources check out these posts: best tools to create videos and best tools to add text to videos.
8. Note taking tools
Effective note taking is key to your success as an academic researcher. Make it a habit to note down key ideas from sources and materials you read.
Some of my favorite note taking tools that will help you capture, organize, and share notes include Google Keep, OneNote, and Evernote. For recording audio notes I recommend Voice Memos and Voice Recorder. For generating transcripts of audio notes, you can try any of these audio transcription apps.
9. Annotation tools
Annotations go hand in hand with note taking. When it comes to academic reading (and all types of reading for that matter), being able to annotate and interact with your text is key to improving your reading comprehension and information recall. Annotating involves adding your comments on the margin, highlighting key points, and underlining central ideas.
Best Web Annotation Tools and also Best Apps for Annotating PDFs .
9. Tools I used as PhD student
If you are interested to learn about the tools I used while I was doing my PhD in educational studies check out Best EdTech Tools that Helped During my PhD Journey. Besides featuring my favorite digital tools, I also included practical tips to help those of you planning to do a PhD make the best of this amazing scholarly journey.
10. Research methodology
Few years ago I compiled a list of what I believe are some of the best research methodology books that should be required readings for all research students.