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Best apps for grad school?

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Wow, I use EndNote for work and I've rarely had problems-- definitely not with citations being formatted wrong. It does cause display issues in documents being shared across different versions of Word, or on computers running different versions of EndNote. We solved it by not adding citations until the version was basically finalized. I have authors use in-text citations, then I replace them with EndNote citations as a final step. I do refuse to type citations into EndNote unless there is absolutely no other way, though. I download all my citations from PubMed and import them.

 

Zotero is just as good though. I used it happily as an undergrad and will go back to it in grad school unless the situation is similar to what I have at work now: collaborators who prefer a different program and can get me a free copy.

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Okay.... I haven't used Evernote before, and I cannot stand OneNote.... what can you do with Evernote?

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Okay.... I haven't used Evernote before, and I cannot stand OneNote.... what can you do with Evernote?

 

Basically, everything. I think the more you do with it, the more it works. With the browser extension you can clip a selection or a picture, format an article for saving, take a screenshot, or save a bookmark. For example, when I click on it for this forum, it can give me all the content in an easy to read format, perfect for reading on tablets and phones. If I find a web article that looks interesting or is related to something I'm writing, you can highlight and add notes while you read, and save it with all of those attached.

 

I have a bunch of folders for every subject or area I'm likely to want to remember stuff, and use tags to make notes easier to find later on. I'll take all of my class and lecture notes in it, so I won't have to wonder where they're saved. When I'm reading, I also like to have Evernote open and take notes with it. I use a technique a very pragmatic professor taught me, where for each journal article I read, I try to sum it up in 3-4 points to make sure I understand what it was about and that I didn't sleep read the latter half. I think when you pay for Evernote, you can upload PDFs and Word documents, and search through them.

 

And, I have it on my smartphone, so I take a lot of pictures of interesting books or journal articles when I encounter them, write quick notes for later, and you can even record to it when you have a brilliant (or seemingly so) idea. I also have a IFTTT that automatically saves articles I really like in Pocket, and when I have a few seconds I put them in the correct folder. And when I'm writing or researching in a particular topic, I can open up a folder and get the content I need and even some inspiration from the past. A lot of people use Evernote for bookmarking websites, but I like Delicious for that because I've been using it for so long (and there's no official way to export from one to the other and keep all your tabs).

 

It's a little dumb when you start using it, but it makes a lot of sense when you have a lot of notes added, in lots of different formats. Throw your chaos at it and see what it can do with it. Imagine all of your notebooks, clippings, bookmarks, and written thoughts in the same searchable place. danah boyd uses it. Here's a guide to using it better, which I found useful.

Edited by bakalamba

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On 2017-04-29 at 5:22 PM, Adelaide9216 said:

the best apps for productivity that I've used - SelfControl (for mac only.)

I love this app. Simple and effective way to stay away from distracting sites when you need to focus.

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1 hour ago, Adelaide9216 said:

I heard that Dropbox isn't the best option to save a thesis and data. Any thoughts on that? What would be an alternative?

Whether or not Dropbox will suit your needs depends on what you need and what are your concerns regarding Dropbox. For me, I just need something that will save the text files for my writing (and the figures that come with it) on the cloud so that I can access the files on any machine and synchronization is automatic. So Dropbox is perfect for me and I've been using it for 7 years. My main gripe with Dropbox is that the amount of "free" space you get isn't very much and in order to get more, you have to buy 1TB, which costs $100/year. I don't need 1TB! I would happily pay for Dropbox if I could buy like 100 GB for $10/year. However, since they don't give me that option, I have split my storage across a few different cloud platforms. All of my academic stuff is still on Dropbox while personal things (photos etc.) are stored on Google Drive now.

I think some other academics don't like Dropbox because they don't like the terms and conditions that Dropbox has on how they use the data in your Dropbox. I don't have an issue with any of that. I also do not work with any human data that requires special protections by ethics boards and the such, but I can see why this is not a good option for those who need to store data from their research subjects on Dropbox. All of the actual data files (raw and processed) for my work are stored on machines in my office and my department, not in the cloud, because it would take up far too much space on Dropbox and I don't need that data accessible from anywhere instantly. I can always remotely connect to my work machines via ssh or other clients in the rare case when I need to do so remotely.

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5 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

I heard that Dropbox isn't the best option to save a thesis and data. Any thoughts on that? What would be an alternative?

Lots of alternatives: Box, SugarSync, SpiderOak, Google Drive. Those are the first four that came to mind for me.

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What did you hear with respect to reasons for not using DropBox?

I've used it with no problems for years, and worry less about their terms than Google Drive. 

Box is good, and the editing interface is fantastic, if you need another option. 

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Ah, ok. Thanks for the links. 

None of my work stuff do I really worry about security for. 

SpiderOak, as you mentioned, used to be great for security, and iirc Box is up to HIPPA standards. 

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Yea, I have a bunch of friends who do research with undocumented immigrants so these kinds of concerns are quite relevant to them. After reading this, I'm probably switching who I use for cloud backup...

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For those who use Evernote, I've found that Scannable is a brilliant companion app for smartphones. It uses your camera to snap images of post-its, flyers, handwritten notes, and other documents that you want to immediately convert to jpg or PDF and saves them automatically to your Evernote account. You can specify a default save folder on Evernote, share docs with others, save to your phone, etc.

On my computer, I really like SuperNotecard for brainstorming and organizing ideas for papers. It's similar to Trello, but for some reason I could just never get on board with Trello (maybe the subscription version is better?). But if you like kanban boards (e.g. Trello, MeisterTask) for organizing thoughts, you may like SuperNotecard. Though I will be the first to admit that that is not the coolest-sounding name... :P

Personally, I find Google Drive indispensable, because I collaborate with others in real-time on documents regularly. It's also great free storage space (lucky for me, I had my thesis backed up to Google Drive when my laptop crashed last year and everything on it was irrecoverable). It's also way more aesthetically pleasing to me than Dropbox. :D

Specifically for productivity, I am partially to the pomodoro technique, and after experimenting with various pomo apps, I use the smartphone app Flat Tomato almost exclusively. Other pomo apps are prettier and certainly have more features (I love the idea of historical charts so I can track when I was more or less 'productive,' which Flat Tomato does not offer), but the vast majority you have to pay for. If any of you have paid for a premium pomodoro app (or if you have recommendations on other productivity apps/websites), I would love to hear from you!

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I rely on a few key apps for my studies and organization.

For a digital to-do list, I use Wunderlist. It's fantastic. Great for syncing to-dos across multiple devices, sharing a to-do list with someone, scheduling tasks in advance, etc. Highly recommend.

For little notes and reminders, ideas, inspiration, etc., I use Google Keep. Nothing fancy. Essentially just digital sticky notes that sync across devices. The search function is great.

For my references, I use Mendeley. I have it on both my computers and my tablet. It syncs everything across so you can see notes/highlights you've made in certain articles even when you're viewing on your iPad, etc.

I also have f.lux installed on both my computes. This little app gradually adjusts the blue light being displayed from your screen throughout the day so that if you're working late, the blue light won't affect your sleep (at least as much).

Finally, i have to recommend Spotify as a grad school app simply because there are so many fantastic playlists of music & sounds to help you focus, relax, wake-up, or whatever you need to do.

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On 6/8/2014 at 10:55 AM, juilletmercredi said:

use Popmoney to send money to my friends and family who don't have the same bank when divvying stuff up.  There's a $0.95 fee but that's better than my bank's fee, which is like $3.

Worth noting FB Messenger now does this for free.

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I've learned to love CamScanner. I rarely use it or archival research, but I use it for everything else that you need to scan and send to your department. My last batch was all the receipts from a conference for which I needed reimbursement. 

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Google drive (as many have mentioned)

Genius scan, for scanning documents into PDFs (can email from phone)

Worktime, which is good for if you want to keep track of the endless hours you work. I didn't use this as a MS student but I will as a PhD to make sure I'm balancing work and personal time appropriately

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On 5/2/2017 at 10:24 AM, thehungryscholar said:

For my references, I use Mendeley. I have it on both my computers and my tablet. It syncs everything across so you can see notes/highlights you've made in certain articles even when you're viewing on your iPad, etc.

 

I LOVE Mendeley! I actually tried Zotero, first, but ended up liking Mendeley, better. I highly recommend it!

Check with your school; mine offers us encrypted cloud storage space, which is really helpful for working from home! Note you'll lose that space when you graduate if your school offers it, so you'll want to do a good backup!

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For a productivity timer, I like Forest: Stay Focused, Be Present. You can set the timer for anything from 10-120 minutes, and when you're done you get a little bush or tree in your "forest" and pretend money with which to expand your forest. It's like a little rewards system built in. 

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On 2017-06-18 at 8:09 PM, rheya19 said:

For a productivity timer, I like Forest: Stay Focused, Be Present. You can set the timer for anything from 10-120 minutes, and when you're done you get a little bush or tree in your "forest" and pretend money with which to expand your forest. It's like a little rewards system built in. 

Yes! Forest is a great app. I use it every day to keep myself off my phone while working. The little trees are cute. Plus you can use the points you earn to plant actual, real trees. It's a very cool app.

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On ‎6‎/‎17‎/‎2017 at 10:59 AM, biotechie said:

I LOVE Mendeley! I actually tried Zotero, first, but ended up liking Mendeley, better. I highly recommend it!

I agree. They're more or less the same thing, but I like the suggestions Mendeley makes for articles I might be interested in. If there is an article that I can't access through Mendeley always search for that title at Google Scholar (the best darn thing Google has ever invented). If not, then resort for a loan through your school's library. @AP's suggestion is also good. I used CamScanner all the time as an undergrad. @Val_nbc, I use and like Google Drive but I've found that it's not so fast at uploading and syncing my documents. I almost always just find it faster to email documents. Does anyone else have this issue? I remember for a class we used Box and I really liked it. They have a free version but if you're inactive I think they erase your account, at least I think that's what happened to mine anyway. For that, I would just suggest making a group library at Mendeley. Never been a fan of Dropbox for whatever reason. Google Calendar is a must, for remembering to do assignments and paying bills. There are probably apps for those two activities (or just get a planner) but with Google Calendar I make due.

 

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50 minutes ago, transmodalnut said:

I agree. They're more or less the same thing, but I like the suggestions Mendeley makes for articles I might be interested in. 

I've noticed that these suggestions have gotten better over time, however, they almost always suggest articles that are quite old and I've read years ago! e.g. most of the articles they suggest to me were published 4+ years ago. Hopefully this feature will improve over time, as right now, I feel that the suggested articles are too outdated for people who keep up with the literature and not well picked enough to be a representative sample for people who need to catch up! I think they come up with suggested articles based on how many other people in your field have accessed a particular article, so hopefully as more usage data comes in, the algorithm is able to pick out the classic/important papers in each year (might still need another way to suggest brand new and interesting articles though!)

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