Tech for research and writing

Brief explanation

This page contains information and links about workflows, writing, note taking, and apps that are useful for undergraduate and graduate students.


I use Apple devices, almost exclusively. However, before you run away and accuse me of being some kind of Apple fanatic or loyalist, please consider that I have used Windows, Linux, and Android devices. My choice to be trapped by the Apple ecosystem is based on usability, stability, and consistency. So most of the apps I will talk about work with Apple devices as well as, you know, that other system that people use. I might mention a few that are only available for Apple devices, but that only means that the apps are excellent and might be a reason for migrating to Apple.

There, I said it.

Backing up your data

  • Clearly, completely, and totally understand that there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who have lost data, and those who will.
  • If you get this, then you have a chance to easily be a part of the third group who have not lost data and will not lose data. I think I just contradicted myself.

    Links to useful sites

    Using Text Expansion Software in Your Workflow

    Say Yes to the Reference Manager

    Using Project Management Approaches to Tame Your Dissertation

    PDF Chaos? Digital Workflow Basics

    Sente for PDF Management on the Mac and iPad (1): Capturing and Organizing PDFs

    Evernote for Academics: Day 01 – Series Introduction

    Productivity Tools for Graduate Students: Digital Workflows for Grads

    The Single Greatest Method for Immediately Increasing Your Blog Post Production Speed by 600%

    Suggested apps

    See the disclaimer at the top before you start throwing things at me. Any app with an * means it costs money.

    Collaboration and communication

    Office suite

  • LibreOffice


  • Scrivener*
  • Ulysses* (OS X and iOS)*
  • Editorial (iOS)*
  • Hemingway Editor


  • Kindle
  • Adobe Reader
  • Skim (OSX)
  • Sumatra (Windows)
  • Good Reader* (iOS)

    Note taking

  • SimpleText
  • Drafts* (iOS) If you have an iPhone, you really want this. If someone said that I could only have one app on my phone, this would be it.
  • Evernote I think that this app runs on anything, even a vacuum cleaner.
  • OneNote Surprisingly good. Surprising, because I usually don't like Microsoft products.


  • Zotero
  • Endnote
  • Sente Apple products only.
  • Mendeley Works on everything except iOS. Go figure.


  • Prezi An interesting alternative to PowerPoint.

    Mind mapping / concept mapping:

  • CMap
  • MindMup
  • Freemind
  • VUE Steep learning curve but very powerful and can be used as presentation software as well.
  • iThoughts * Costs money but this is my favorite mind mapping app.

    Cloud storage

  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive

    Blogging and websites

  • Free hosted blogs.
  • For people who self-host.
  • Ghost I use Ghost for my website. I can write with Markdown. If you write for the web, you want to learn Markdown. In fact, I use Markdown for almost all my writing now. Do yourself a favor and look into it.


    • Stylus
    • Tablet (Makes reading and highlighting PDFs so much easier.)
    • Bluetooth keyboard (I highly recommend the Logitech or Logicool K810. It pairs with three different devices and all you have to do is push a button to pair with a device. Do not underestimate the value of always using the same keyboard; it will save you from mking tiping mstaks.)
    • 27 inch monitor (Are you tired of always switching windows yet? If not, you  will be soon.)