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Useful Tools for Scholars

Accessing Articles

LibKey Nomad is a browser extension that gives users one-click access to scholarly articles​​​​​​. (Guide for use.)

Zotero also usually imports article PDFs.

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.

Princeton University Library now supports an institutional subscription for unlimited storage (e.g., for article PDFs), authenticated with a current Princeton University email address.  If you already have a Zotero account, but it’s not currently linked to your Princeton email, you can add your Princeton email in Zotero Preferences under Settings—> Account and the new unlimited storage will show up under Settings-->Storage.

  • For information on Refworks, Endnote, and Mendeley, see this page.

PDF Storing, Managing, Reading, and Annotating

  • Zotero now offers unlimited PDF storage for users with a Princeton email address. (See above.) With Zotero's built-in PDF reader, you can easily annotate and highlight PDFs and export your notes and annotations separately as an html file. These annotations and highlights could then be organized in another application, such as the notes app Notion. Other than PDF Expert (which I highly recommend, buth which isn't free and works only on Apple devices), Zotero PDF reader is one of the only PDF program that allow you to export just your notes and annotations and save them. One strategy for organizing research is to keep all the annotations and highlights from everything you read organized in a notes app by projector chapter.
  • ReadCube Papers 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.
  • Anywhere Access is a tool that gives you 1-click full-text PDF access for both Open Access and library subscribed content. Anywhere Access works seamlessly both on & off campus and supports discovery across the web including your favorite scholarly search engines, scholarly social networks, and publisher websites

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.

Organizing Notes and Other Information (personal knowledge base)

  • Notion (Top Recommendation; synchronize across devices and platforms; "Personal Pro" account free with .edu email address)
  • Bear (iOS only; $15/year; synchronize across devices and platforms)
  • Obsidian (free on one device; $96/year for sync)
  • Evernote (free on two devices, $80/year for unlimited sync)
  • OneNote (free for Princeton students)
  • Avidnote

Handy for quick notes anywhere on your phone, but also potentially useful for saving, tagging, and organizing research notes and quotes as well as pretty much any kind of information. There are several of these. I use Bear Pro, simple and relatively inexpensive, but works only on Apple devices. Notion is more powerful, works well, and the "Personal Pro" option is free for educators, allowing you to synchronize across devices and operating systems, so register with your Princeton email. Obsidian is similar to Notion, and free to use on one device, with a lot of plugins to add other features, but pricey if you want synchronization. Evernote is free if you don't want to sync across multiple devices. 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.

Audio Recording and Editing

  • Audacity (open source audio editor, great for recording and cleaning audio, such as removing background noise).

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.

Password Manager

  • Lastpass: free for Princeton students and faculty. Create and safely store strong passwords. Then you have to remember only ONE password.

Attaching Links in Zotero and Syncing with Google Drive

EDIT: Still possible, but I'm no longer recommending this since Zotero allows unlimited storage for Princeton users.

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.