Best Research/Note-Taking Apps?

Over the years I have used various applications for taking notes, tracking research, etc. I have used basic word processing apps, OneNote, Google Docs, and Evernote. All have advantages and disadvantages.

Since I’m starting a PhD in the Fall, I’m trying to nail down which app to invest my energy and effort into using for tracking all of the reading and research I’ll be doing.

I am leaning toward Evernote because of the ability to create notebooks with numerous notes in each notebook and the ability to access my information from my computer, my phone, and the web.

However, I am very open to other suggestions, particularly programs I may have missed along the way.

P.S. I am using a Mac so the programs need to be Mac compatible.

UPDATE: P.P.S. I should also mention that the ability to handle no-English text would be a major plus.


3 thoughts on “Best Research/Note-Taking Apps?

  1. Funny you should post this question today–I’m in a similar situation and was just doing a search for the best Research apps for Mac OS X (and I found your blog when googling such things).

    Two interesting apps that stood out to me were Papers 2: and Scrivener:

    In years past I’ve done most of my research the old fashioned way, and I’ve worked mostly with Microsoft Word. What I have done as far as online research has been fairly jumbled between me trying to create folders and such on my computer–but that tends to wind up a bit messy. I’m thinking of perhaps investing in these two products. Let me know if you find any other cool ones out there.

    Oh: There are a couple of free Mac Dashboard widgets that I know of that pertain to research: “Article” and “Quickcite”. Check them out.

    1. Good suggestions. I’ve heard of Papers (I know a prof who uses it and, I think, is very happy with it), though I’m still not quite sure how naturally it would fit into my workflow. Scrivener, on the other hand, seems like it has all the features I would need. Definitely going to look into that more.

  2. I just found this very helpful, informative site:

    It’s a bit dated, but still has a ton of great info. One notable application that I found in my search that is missing is Zotero, which is a free app that promises to do basically all of the same things the more pricey ones do. It would be worth checking out.

    After spending the last hour or so deciphering some of this stuff, it seems to me that a lot of the applications on that page are now beginning to transition into each other’s space. For example, the Scrivener tutorial I shared earlier made it appear as though it was a full fledged word processor, and not merely a note taking/brainstorming app. And the Papers 2 app says that you can write from within the app itself, as opposed to it being listed as strictly PDF management. Oh, and if you’ve never heard of Endnote, it’s kind of the standard bearer for citation software–and from what I could tell from the site, it looks as if it is expanding into more of a word processing application, too.

    All that said, I just started using Evernote last night, and it seems to work well for note taking and brain storming. The overlapping aside, from what I can tell the strengths are:

    Endnote for citations
    Scrivener for writing
    Papers 2 for file management
    and Zotero for an economy version of all of the above.

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