The purpose of today’s post is to share with you this handpicked collection of some of the best apps for researchers and graduate students. From taking notes on the go to recording and transcribing audio, these apps will definitely help enhance your overall productivity.
For practical purposes, I arranged the collection into a number of categories. There is some overlap between certain categories and some apps can be placed within different categories. Whenever possible, I provided both iOS and Android links.
I. Note taking apps
The ability to instantly capture your ideas and jot down notes on the go is key to your work as a researcher. Creative and novel ideas pop up unexpectedly, and as you know, an undocumented idea is a lost idea. One way to ensure you capture those fleeting thoughts and to note down key takeaways is by using note taking apps. Here are some of my favourite picks:
Create and organize text and audio notes, clip web pages and articles. Compatibility: iPhone/iPad/ Android. Price: free, offers in-app purchases.
Create notes, docs, and tasks. Collaborate in real-time. Compatibility: iPhone/iPad/ Android. Price: free, offers in-app purchases.
Write memos, create digital sketchbooks, and save notes. Collaborate together in a shared notepad. Compatibility: iPhone/iPad/ Android. Price: free, offers in-app purchases.
Write, sketch, or draw notes. Clip web pages and capture images and text. Compatibility: iPhone/iPad. Price: free, offers in-app purchases.
Type or handwrite notes. Annotate documents. Compatibility: iPhone/iPad. Price: Offers in-app purchases.
2. PDF annotating apps
Effective and deep reading requires an active interaction with the read material. As a researcher or research student, you will have the chance to read piles of academic materials and unless you develop a good reading habit which involves the use of annotations, you won’t probably make the best of your reading experience.
The power of annotating practice is that it allows you to engage with text at a deeper level which enhances your reading comprehension and boosts your retention rate. If you like to do your readings on mobile devices, these PDF editing apps are definitely worth considering:
2. Small PDF
3. Fill PDF Editor
5. PDF Expert
3. Cloud storage apps
Cloud storage is a wonderful invention and one of the blessings of modern technology. It has saved my academic life countless times. Imagine the panic you would feel to know you have just irretrievably deleted a draft chapter of your doctoral dissertation. Imagine as well the joy and relief you would feel to realize that a copy of the supposedly lost chapter is miraculously stored on Google Drive. That was me when I was working on my doctoral dissertation.
A rule of thumb, always make sure you have copies of your documents and other important materials saved in a safe cloud storage platform so you can access them anywhere with Internet connection. I know there are always risks of theft and privacy issues but the cloud storage platforms below offer maximum security and I personally never had any issues with them.
1. Google Drive
Backup your files, file sharing, mark up and sign docs, file sharing. Compatibility: iPhone/iPad/ Android. Price: free, offers in-app purchases.
4. Bookmarking apps
The web is packed full of all types of resources and you probably come across tons of these resources in your daily browsing. Some of these materials are just so important that bookmarking them becomes a necessity. Whether it’s a web page, a PDF, a video, an image, or anything else published online and is of importance to your work as a researcher, make sure you have a way to save it for later reference.
Here are some of the best bookmarking apps you can use on your mobile device to save and access your favourite online resources.
5. Document scanner apps
Scanning paperwork is something you will often have recourse to during your research work. The apps below will help you scan various forms of documents on the go and save scanned materials in PDF or image files.
1. Microsoft Lens
3. Small PDF
4. Evernote Scannable
6. Dictionary apps
A dictionary is an indispensable tool in your research toolkit. It will help enhance your reading comprehension and refine your writing style. Here are some of the best dictionary apps to keep handy:
Dictionary, thesaurus, offline access, idioms, slang, translation, medical dictionary. Compatibility iPhone/iPad. Price: free, offers in-app purchases.
3. Power Thesaurus
7. Academic research networking apps
A huge part of academic life is about research networking. Getting to meet fellow researchers from all around the world, discover their work, share experiences, and build research connections and collaborations.
My favourite platforms for research networking are researchGate, Academia, and LinkedIn. All of these platforms have mobile apps allowing you to access and connect with a worldwide community of researchers anywhere, anytime.
8. Focus enhancing apps
However, (and ironically enough) technology does offer solutions. There are various online and mobile applications that can help you develop focus and achieve more everyday. Some of my the best focus enhancing apps I recommend for researchers include:
1. Flora- Green Focus
2. Forest Focus
5. Focus Keeper
9. Task management and to-do list apps
Besides enhancing focus, which I talked about earlier, your productivity can benefit a lot from having effective task management strategies in place. Juggling aimlessly among unfinished tasks and not being able to clearly articulate your research and academic priorities can decrease from the overall quality of your work.
Creating to-do lists, setting reminders for important deadlines, strategic planning, effective tasks management are all practices (and skills) that you need to incorporate into your daily routine. And yes there are apps to help you do so. Consider the following:
1. Google Tasks
2. Things 3
5. Microsoft To Do
10. Apps for e-Signing Docs
Distant education is becoming a huge part of today’s education. From webinars to online conferences, so much of our work as researchers and educators is done online. With that being the case, we often find ourselves in situations where we need to remotely sign paperwork or request signature from others. Hence the importance of e-signature apps below. These are apps that enable you to fill in forms and sign documents electronically.
11. Voice transcription apps
As a researcher, you get to work with multiple forms of data including audio transcribed data, that is, data you extract from audio or video content. Indeed, transcription is an arduous and time-consuming activity, but there are apps that make the whole process as simple as clicking on a button to automatically generate transcriptions.
Of course, machine transcription is not 100% accurate and you always need to double check the accuracy of the final output. Some of the best transcription apps for researchers include:
2. Voice to Text Pro:
12. Audio recording apps
As a researcher, you need to have a reliable audio recording app installed on your mobile device. Whether you want to record an audio note, a lecture, or a meeting, audio recording apps will definitely help enhance your productivity. Some of my favourite audio recording apps include:
1. Voice Memos
2. Voice Record Pro
3. Easy Voice Recorder