Currently I am preparing the master thesis proposal, I start to realize the importance of applications useful for academic writing. Last year, I read through Laura’s post 5 fantastic apps you’ll want to use for your master’s thesis, and I tried Zotero and RescueTime. I have to admit that everyone has his/her preference for these applications. Thus I would only write what I am using while I write my thesis proposal. Hopefully I would update the list while I finish my draft thesis.
1.Mendeley – Reference
After trying Endnote and Zotero for two weeks, I decide that Endnote is too complicated and Zotero is less compatible with websites and pdf. Therefore I start looking for a new app and find Mendeley. According to the blogpost of a PhD student in the States, the academic writing in his circle consists mainly of Endnote (40%), Mendeley (40%), Zotero and others. So I try out Mendeley for a week and enjoy using it a lot. For me, the most important thing for a reference tool is:
i. easy to extract the document from Google Scholar, PubMed and other publication data base. (Save to Mendeley is a plugin working on Safari. In order to use Endnote, I install Firefox but do not really like it)
ii. easy to import a pdf into the reference tool and automatically arrange the reference info (For Mendeley, it is simply drag)
iii. works on Microsoft Word 2015 when in-text citation and reference list are created. (All reference tools can work on this, but Endnote is not functioning well when I use Microsoft Office 2016 on Macbook, same problem with Zotero. Surprisingly Mendeley works so I finally choose it)
Another important feature is that Mendeley can integrate Endnote, BibTex, Zotero and all major form of citations. All in all, all Mendeley resources are free!!! So it is the perfect reference tool for me. Note: You need to carefully choose ONE reference app, it is better to stick to ONLY ONE, which can avoid mess and mistakes later on
2. Word – Writing
Now I am still using word because I haven’t tried Markdown for enough time. However, I think I will focus on learning Markdown and writing my master thesis with either Ulysses to IA writer. I am also thinking about creating a focused, quite writing atmosphere if I got PhD offer :D.
3.Goodnotes – Reading Essays
Since I have more than 50 essays to read just for writing the thesis proposal, a good app for reading pdfs is crucial. I use iPad air so I use IOS app a lot. After three years of practicing, I am heavily relying on Goodnotes. It is simple to use, not many switches between highlight and hand-writing, easy to edit the pdf and create personalized ones. With a stylus, I could make an electronic note equivalent to the paper without any delay.
I have tried very many reading and note-taking apps like PDF expert, iBouquiniste, Cabinet, Notability. Each of them has advantages and drawbacks, if you want to find the best one for you, you need to spend some time with it. I download these apps when they are on sales so I think it is worth it.
Since I am a heavy iPad+Macbook user, I could only share applications on the IOS/OS platform. However, many of these apps have Android/Windows version. You might want to take a chance since it might be the only app you use!
Honestly I love reading articles about these apps and testing them myself, so I would like to share with you more about study apps in the future, hope it will be interesting for you!