10 best research tools every scholar should use

Andrei Cucleschin, 26 August 2019

There were times when those interested in research had to spend hours in the library searching for the right literature. Modern researchers are equipped with a range of digital tools. Here you can find a list of the best citation, statistics, transcription, survey, project management, and plagiarism software and most of them are free!

We’ve compiled a list of the best digital research tools on the market, endorsed by thousands of researchers all around the world.
Moreover, if you’re not impressed by our picks, we’ve also included some Honorable mentions, so you can quickly check out the alternatives.

1. Best Citation Software – EndNote

Best Citation Software

This was a tough choice. There are three big players in the citation software market.
We choose EndNote only because it provides some advanced functions, but competing products are better in other domains. One of them is visuals. EndNote looks outdated and you’ll definitely have to watch a tutorial or 2 on how to use it.

Zotero is extremely user-friendly and has an extension for Chrome to easily cite web content.
Mendeley offers a social network, where researchers can communicate & collaborate.

Honorable mentions: Zotero, Mendeley

2. Best Statistics Software – SPSS

Best Statistics Software

SPSS is used by thousands of students and researchers worldwide. It offers many functions for advanced statistical procedures, such as factor analysis, ANOVA.
Moreover, you can import data tables right from Excel and run tests. It also allows you to quickly visualize your quantitative data with plots, charts, and graphs.

Lastly, the interface definitely isn’t striking, but at least it’s not difficult to orient around the software!

Honorable mentions: STATA, Number Analytics, JASP

3. Best Survey Platform– QUALTRICS

Best Survey Software

There are many platforms that allow you to create surveys. Qualtrics is one of the most popular tools among universities. It comes with a wide range of functions and allows you to do virtually anything with regard to data analysis. The interface is also quite intuitive. The only downside is – it’s super expensive, that’s why it’s mostly used by universities and big organizations.

Honorable mentions: Google Forms, SurveyMonkey

4. Best OCR (Optical Character Recognition) Software – Free Online OCR

Best OCR

OCR is a straightforward technology that can potentially add tons of value to your workflow. Although most content (as well as literature) is available online, there will be a few occasions where you’ll have to work with real paper-based books or hand-written texts.

OCR allows you to convert written or printed text into encoded text that you can copy/ paste/ edit etc. There are hundreds of tools out there, but they all provide the same basic functions.

Free Online OCR is (obviously) free and very simple to use

5. Best Project Management Software – Miro

Best Project Management Tool

If you’re looking for a tool that would allow managing tasks/ to-do lists and projects – there are many options available.
Many people are probably wondering why Trello is not our first recommendation. Although Trello is nice and user-friendly, when it comes to visuals – Miro is just one step ahead.

You can literally visualize everything and make your whiteboard look exactly the way you envision it – something that Trello desperately lacks.

Honorable mentions: Trello, Monday.com

6. Best Plagiarism Software – Turnitin

How does plagiarism software works

You all know how big of a deal is plagiarism in the academic world. But how does plagiarism software work?

Turnitin is known as the most sophisticated plagiarism detection software out there. It uses certain machine learning algorithms (such as Natural Language Understanding), which makes plagiarism detection very accurate. The downside is the same as for Qualtrics – only businesses and universities can afford a license.

Honorable mentions: Grammarly, BachelorPrint, Quetext

7. Best Social Networking Websites for Researchers – ResearchGate

ResearchGate replaces Quora, Facebook, and LinkedIn for scholars.
You can ask questions, write peer reviews, and even apply for research-oriented jobs. All in one platform.


Honorable mentions: Mendeley, Academia.edu

8 Best Literature Search Engine – Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Where to search for relevant articles? Google it. Google Scholar is a search engine dedicated to academic publications.

Google indexes millions of articles and provides very accurate search results.
You can also use it to download citations/search for authors etc.

Honorable mentions: Microsoft Academic, Scinapse, Semantics Scholar 

9. Best Qualitative Coding Software – QDA Miner

After you transcribe an interview, the next step will be to analyze your qualitative data.
Again, plenty of tools to choose from.
We stick to QDA Miner because it’s free and very simple-to-use.

Best Qualitative Coding Software

You can check out our tutorial on qualitative coding, where we show the basics of QDA Miner Lite.

Honorable mentions: MAXQDA, Atlasti

10. Best Transcription Software – Amberscript

Best Transcription Software

Transcribing interviews manually can be a real pain. Luckily, there are online transcription tools that do the job for you.

Amberscript is not the only transcription software out there but it has one of the highest accuracy rates and it is adapted to a wider range of languages than its competitors. You do not have to take our word for it, you can try it for free! Works very intuitively, quickly, and performs transcription in multiple languages.

Find out how to save time with research interviews!

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