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BT Home LibGuide: Productivity Tools for Scholars

Useful Tools for Scholars

Reference Management Systems: Citations and Bibligraphies Made Easier

Reference management systems allow you to import, organize, and annotate citations from library catalogs and databases and the Internet. They also sync across multiple computers, allow the easy generation of bibliographies, and in some cases work within Microsoft Word and LibreOffice to add citations. If you see an article you like in a database, for example, click a button and it's added to the program. Organize citations into folders; click on a folder to generate a bibliography in the citation style of your choice.

I recommend Zotero. It's powerful with a low learning curve.

PDF Storing, Managing, Reading, and Annotating

Import PDFs and organize, read, annotate, and highlight them. Unlimited storage with our PUL subscription. If you're a new user, please use this link (along with your Princeton email address) to create a new Papers account. Basic training materials are available here.

File Syncing and Storage Programs: Never Lose Your Work Again

File syncing programs allow you to save files to a drive on your computer that will be stored in the "cloud" and synced across multiple devices. They work like regular drives, so there's no uploading. You can sync a folder with multiple services. Working on that important project? Sync the folder with Dropbox, and then sync the dropbox folder with Sugarsync. That way your documents are on multiple computers and clouds.

  • Google Drive (unlimited storage on Princeton Google accounts)
  • Dropbox (2GBs free, 2TBs & more plans starting for $9.99/month or $99/year)
  • Long Term Media Storage (from the Princeton New Media Center for "for large media files such as video, audio, and animation files")

Research Photo Management

From the creator of Zotero; helps organize and annotate research photos from archives, etc.

Notes app

Handy for quick notes anywhere on your phone, but also potentially useful for saving, tagging, and organizing research notes and quotes. There are several of these. I use Evernote, but pay for the "Plus" account. OneNote comes with your university Microsoft account. Avidnote is a newer product "developed by a team of researchers and developers from Chalmers University of Technology located in Sweden."

Smartphone Scanner

  • Scanner Pro
  • CamScanner

There are several good options. I use Scanner Pro, available for Apple, which scans and OCRs text to create searchable PDFs. It's made by Readdle, which also makes my favorite PDF reader for Mac. CamScanner for Android also works well. Very handy for scanning a few pages of physical books and journals. Share PDFs or text with Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, email, etc.

Foldable, Portable Book Stand

Again, many options. I have a couple of this inexpensive model. Holds books open and upright for reading, referring to when writing, or scanning with a smartphone scanner.

Line Break Removal Tool

Text copied from PDFs often has line or paragraph breaks you need to remove before pasting that text into something you're writing. Text Fixer strips out those line breaks.

Attaching Links in Zotero and Syncing with Google Drive

It's possible to choose which directory Zotero uses when you attach links to files. If you use Google Drive or Dropbox (or another similar file-syncing service), you can now save your citations in Zotero and attach links to files in that folder. By doing this, all of your citations and saved electronic documents will be easily available where you are working, as well as being backed up in the cloud and your hard drives, and you can store an enormous number of PDFs without paying for Zotero storage.. Here are instructions to set up the sync and link files:

1) Sign up for a Google Drive account. [Or Dropbox. If you go with Dropbox, just substitute it for Google Drive in the file examples below.]

2) Download or upgrade to Zotero 5.0 and the connector for Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

3) In Zotero, change the setting for the Base Directory to the Google Drive folder. The path is Preferences/ Advanced/ Files and Folders. Here's what it should look like (although with your computer's name instead of mine):

4) Move all your saved files and folders with digital articles and ebooks to the Google Drive folder. You can keep whatever folder organizational structure you have already and just move everything into Google Drive.

5) In Zotero, right-click on a citation for which you have a saved digital file, then choose Add Attachment, then click Attach Link to File. Find the appropriate file in the Google Drive folder and attach it.

6) Once you've attached the link to the file, as long as the settings are correct and the same on each computer, Zotero and Google Drive should synchronize with whatever computers you use, and the file should be retrievable through Zotero.