PhD Stash’s 5 Favorite Tools for Doctoral Scholars and Researchers

Researchers must balance various types of responsibilities throughout their academic careers, including data collection, data analysis, and most importantly academic writing. This whole process can be daunting and arduous. The good news is that there are many tools that can greatly enhance our ability to do our work efficiently. Whatever your problem is – mistyped your thesis title, troubled with your referencing, or seeking the latest scholarly articles in your field – there are tools out there. This article presents our favorite five online resources for PhD  scholars and researchers. Since academic writing is the backbone of any research process, most of these tools are aimed at helping you in the writing process. 

  1. Grammarly:

Grammarly is a powerful online grammar checker. It offers you contextual recommendations for improving your command over the English language in emails, google docs, social media, and word documents. Having published over 30 scholarly articles in various academic journals I still struggle with common grammar and punctuation errors such as inappropriate prepositions and articles. This is where Grammary comes handy. Grammarly can be particularly beneficial to non-native speakers of English however human due diligence is required as you can not blindly accept the suggestions. After all, it is an AI based program and there is a long way ahead for  such AI programs to replace human functionality. The free version is sufficient for grammatical errors, if you require more advanced functionality such as plagiarism check etc you can opt in for monthly subscription. Other alternatives to Grammarly include: Pro Writing Aid, Linguix, Hemingway Editor, Ginger etc. 

  1. Mendeley Desktop:

Mendeley is a general reference manager developed by Elsevier, which you can sign up for and download free for your own devices. I started using Mendeley in my 2nd year of PhD in 2013 and have never had to look back. Although I have used EndNote and Refworks in the past, Mendeley has proven to be the most effective tool for managing references. The ease of annotating in pdf files, importing websites directly from the internet to the library and a generous cloud data storage are its strong selling points. Plus it is available for free. The free version is enough to meet the needs of the majority of the researchers. Other alternatives to Mendeley include EndNote, Scite, Paperpile, and Zotero (which I’ve heard good things about). You can download Mendeley here.

  1. Wordtune:

Wordtune is a word-processing service that uses artificial intelligence to provide personalized help with writing. It analyses the context and semantics of text, identifies and fixes clunky sentences, awkward or confusing phrases, and repetitive words. It can also generate new ideas for content by predicting which type of sentence will work well given the context. Wordtune helps to boost creativity in writing while testing out new vocabulary and improving sentence clarity. It is on eof the best tools for paraphrasing. Alternative to Wordtune include Quillbot. 

  1. Academic Phrasebank

The Academic Phrasebank is a database of phrases that academic writers use in their writing. It is an excellent resource for people who need examples and inspiration for academic writing. The resource is focused on the needs of non-native speakers in order to help them improve their writing skills and reduce the amount of time they spend editing their work. If you are a PhD student, academic, postdoc, or native/non-native English speaker looking to develop your professional skills in academic writing, this free guide will be a valuable resource.

  1. Dropbox

Imagine saving all the data from your experiment/draft thesis onto your computer, then waking up the next morning to find it crashed. It would be a disaster, wouldn’t it? To avoid such a nightmare you might want to consider storing your data in a cloud based file storage program. Dropbox is a cloud based file storage service that allows the user to access their files from any device. It offers 2GB of free storage space and also has a premium version which allows the user to have more storage space, as much as 8TB. In most of the cases the free space is enough but you can upgrade if you need more space. Alternative to dropbox are Google Drive from Google and OneDrive from Microsoft. 

Do you have any tools that you find indispensable in your academic life? Please share in the comments. 

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