Research Tools For Ph.D students


Think about using a cloud-based app like Dropbox(has the best synchronization ability IMHO), Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, or Box (I’ve been using it since ~2006), etc. Trust me they will save you life when one day your PC is broken or you accidentally format your hard disk.


The cloud-based app has brought a revolution in the IT industry. Their contribution has led to the information being more secured, easy to send & retrieve, and similarly, it has eliminated the use of external storage devices for storing crucial data at such a huge cost in acquiring them.

It is also called cloud storage devices where the information or data is stored in servers. It has eliminated the risk of losing data from various methods and also features additional security protocols.


A Dropbox is an app that is introduced by Google Company. It posses incredible storage space for all users of Google. For extra storage, it requires users to pay for using this service. It is highly secure, fast and more importantly, it incorporates faster data transmission.

Dropbox also comes as a built-in app in many handheld devices and the best thing about it is the availability even in offline mode. It has also contributed to saving all the important works in one platform without worrying about theft or remote hacking activities. It has the ability to handle large amounts of any kind of data on the server.

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Google Drive


Just like DropBox, Google drive also runs on the same algorithm with a difference that it is the official version of Google. It has the best synchronization capability IMHO in storing data. It provides up to 100GB of free access and it also incorporates special features like the auto naming of the folders like photos, screenshots, videos, etc.

It takes easily for the user to use these folders that make searching for the data incredibly easy than the Dropbox. Upload times is twice as faster as compared to its counterpart. Accessibility to the devices is quite easy to and from the devices.

One Drive & Box

One Drive is another cloud storage app introduced by Microsoft. It was launched in order to beat the domination created by Google Drive and Dropbox. It is linked to the Hotmail account and it bores the same specialties as Google Drive and Dropbox provides. Enables faster transmission of data between the devices and the server.

On the other hand, Box is another cloud storage device that is capable of delivering extraordinary storage capacity. It is a very effective business sector as its algorithm is quite secure as compared to its counterparts. It is available on several platforms and provides premium features in terms of storage capacity and security.

For managing papers:

EndNoteMendeleyJabRef, etc.


Managing papers is the most critical thing for Ph.D. students as they have to right various forms of a thesis and other relevant things in their course.

Various tools are helpful in this context with the primary aim of helping scholars to add a correct reference to various sources of information in their research. The article discusses some of these tools in detail.


EndNote is a reference management software that is commonly used for commercial purposes. It is a helpful tool for scholars and students for adding references from different sources and bibliographies in articles and essays.

Clarivate Analytics is the producer of EndNote and the most significant thing of this reference tool is that it is compatible with the Windows and Macintosh desktop systems. EndNote offers a free trial for its users and after its trial, the users can buy this software for $100 on one time starting prices.

The major advantage of this tool is that it makes it easy for the students to add correct references along with their citations from a large number of sources of information.


Mendeley is primarily famous for its reference manager and the software has the capacity to generate accurate references along with their citation from a large number of sources. It is a helpful tool for researchers and students for this quality.

Mendeley is a London based company that allows its users to share research papers and for making bibliographies for various scholarly articles. The tool is helpful for students in sense due to its high reliability. It is a free reference generator and helps to manage academic social networks perfectly.

It allows students to share their work and content with each other free and they can upload their work on its site to collaborate with other scholars in this context.


JabRef is another reference management software that helps students and scholars to generate references along with their citations from various sources. BibTeX and BibLaTeX are the primary native formats for JabRef. It is the major reason that it is widely used for LaTeX.

The first version of JabRef was launched on November 29, 2003, and it is the acronym of Java, Alver, Batada, and Reference. The major feature of JabRef is its editing power BibTeX files that allow its users to edit various BibTeX files with ease and perfection.

In simple words, it is right to say that JabRef is a Java application that allows formatting various forms of BibTeX files.

For editing LaTeX documents:

TeXStudioTexmakerLyX (very friendly), etc. To easily share and collaborate on a latex document: Take a look at some cloud LaTeX services such as Overleaf or ShareLatex.


It is a prime consideration for Ph.D. students to improve the presentation of their text or documents. Therefore, they use LaTeX to make their documents look beautiful and attractive.

LaTeX is helpful for making the layout of documents interesting and for adding various tables and figures in this regard. In simple words, typographical rules help scholars to improve the outlook of their text or documents.


TeXStudio is an open-source editor for LaTeX files. The primary advantage of this tool is that it has various features that make it easy for students to improve their LaTeX files. The major characteristic of TeXStudio is its spelling checker feature that helps to avoid spelling mistakes in LaTeX files.

In the same manner, the tool highlight syntax along with code folding that helps researchers to improve syntax of their work. However, it is important to consider that TeXStudio does not offer LaTeX itself. Therefore, it is important for the users of TeXStudio to have the distribution of LaTeX and they needs to install it.


Texmaker is another tool for editing LaTeX files that helps students and scholars to edit LaTeX files with ease and perfection. The primary advantage of Texmaker is that it has an integrated PDF viewer that allows its users to view and edit various PDF files.

It is important to understand that Texmaker is purely a Qt application. Another significant feature of Texmaker is that it is a free cross-section platform for Linux macOS and Windows systems and it contains a large number of tools for developing documents that have LaTeX files.

In the same manner, Texmaker possesses an ability to develop various forms of LaTeX files along with their editing.


LyX uses the LaTeX typesetting system that helps to process various documents. It is open-source software that means LyX is more user friendly than other software present in this league. Most of the other processors use the WYSIWYG paradigm but LyX does not use this platform and it is the major reason that makes it easy to use.

Moreover, LyX has a WYSIWYM mechanism that makes it easy to show the semantic structure of the page on the rough screen. However, LyX shows an approximation of this thing in detail. The major advantage of the WYSIWYM mechanism is that it makes the structure of a file easy to understand along with making its appearance graceful.


Overleaf is another editor for LaTeX files and the major advantage of this editor is that it is an online editor that does not require any type of installation and it has hundreds of LaTeX templates.

In the same manner, it has version control characteristic along with real-time collaboration feature that makes it prominent in this league and more helpful than other LaTeX editors do for students and scholars.

The primary benefit of Overleaf is that it has more speed than other LaTeX editors and it makes it easy to increase the speed of science and research for researchers and scholars. It allows its users to develop an unlimited number of files.


ShareLatex is a cloud editor and developed of LaTeX files and it helps scholars to develop and edit various forms of LaTeX files with ease and perfection online. ShareLatex does not need any sort of installation or download and the users can use it online by making an account online.

The major characteristic of ShareLatex is that it ensures the online compiling of projects to PDF format. In the same manner, ShareLatex is a server-based application and this characteristic of ShareLatex makes it different from other LaTeX files editors. In the same manner, the users can access ShareLatex using a web browser upon few clicks easily.

For Drawing Vectorized Figures:

Inkscape, Microsoft Visio (both work well with LaTeX). You can also directly use LaTeX to make figures (advanced level)


Drawing vectorized figures is important for Ph.D. students as it helps to draw figures using curves, lines, and points based on various mathematical equations.

The tool is important for researchers and scholars as it helps them making various graphs used for thesis or dissertations by scholars and students.


Inkscape is an important graphics editor and the primary thing is that it is an open-source editor and it is free. The software possesses an ability to create various vector graphics such as various diagrams, charts, lines, logos, and it has the ability to create various logos as well.

In the same manner, the software has a specific ability to edit various logos and diagrams. The most significant thing about this software is that it runs on various operating systems such as Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows desktop systems. Inkscape uses W3C open standard SVG formats as its standard or native formats for its operations.

For Making Graphs from Data/Results:

gnuplotmatplotlib (I usually use with Python), RStudio, Excel, MATLAB, etc.


Making graphs from data or results is an important thing for scholars and researchers. Various tools are helpful for students in the regard that allow them to make graphs from raw data.

Excel and MATLAB tools are famous in this context but various other tools are also helpful in this regard and most people are unaware of these tools.


Gnuplot is a famous command-line program that has the ability to create two dimensional and three-dimensional plots or graphs for data fits, data, and various functions.

The primary characteristic of this program is that it is compatible with all types of operating systems and computers. The program has a vast history and it started in 1986. However, it is important to consider that Gnuplot is not a part of the GNU project despite having this name.

The software is compatible with various forms of operating systems including Linux, OS/2, MS Windows, OSX, and VMS. Moreover, it has a secure source code that is copyrighted.


Matplotib is a famous plotting library used for the Python programming language. In the same manner, Matplotib is used for plotting graphs for numerical mathematics extension NumPy of the Python programming language.

The software offers object-oriented API for converting plots into various applications that use general-purpose GUI tools such as Tkinter, wxPython, Qt, or GTK+. The most significant thing about this software is that it produces Python 2D plots but it cannot plot 3D plots for Python with a primary aim to produce figures that are used for publication purposes.

The best thing about this software is that it has the ability to produce quality figures for hardcopy formats. Moreover, it offers multi-platform data visualization.


RStudio is an integrated development for the R language. The primary advantage of this software is that it helps scholars and researchers in statistical computing and graphics development. RStudio, Inc., is the primary developer of RStudio IDE. RStudio, Inc is founded by JJ Allaire.

JJ Allaire is the founder of ColdFusion a famous programming language. Moreover, RStudio is open-source software and it is free to use.

The software is helpful data science teams for producing and developing their work at various scales. In the same manner, the software is compatible with various operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux systems and it is important to install R before installing RStudio.

For taking notes:

Evernote, Microsoft OneNote (both have app on a mobile phone)


Taking notes is important for scholars and students. They have to take notes during their lectures and while collecting data from various data sources such as online sources, journal articles, and library sources.

Therefore, they have to use various notes taking tools in this context. Evernote is an important tool in this regard and it helps students in taking notes.


Evernote is a special app that helps students and professionals and taking notes of meetings and lectures. In the same manner, the app helps in organizing and managing various tasks. Evernote Corporation, headquartered in Redwood City, California is the developer of this app.

The major advantage of this app is that it helps to take notes in various formats. For instance, they can take notes in text form, photographs, drawings, and saved web content.

Moreover, Evernote has the capacity to make a to-do-list. The app is helpful for scholars in the sense that they cannot forget their tasks while using this application. Moreover, it allows them to archive their tasks after completion.

For searching literature:

Google ScholarArXiv (the largest pre-prints archive), IEEE Xplore (for engineering students), or just Google. In France, we also have Hal (Hyper Articles en Ligne) which is built to promote open-access.


Searching literature is an important task for students and scholars. They have to search various works done by previous scholars and researchers to provide their reference in their work.

A literature review is an important part of every thesis. Therefore, they have to use various tools or software in this regard.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a search engine for finding various journal articles and books for students and scholars. Moreover, it is free to search engine powered by Google. Google Scholar allows its users to use full text and phrases for searching for various articles and books.

The major advantage of this tool is that it offers peer-reviewed articles to its users. They can access various sources from this engine. In the same fashion, the software has the ability to create references along with their citation from various sources.

It is the most authentic literature search engines and people from all over the world can access is free of cost. Moreover, it helps them to upload their work.


ArVix is another significant source of literature for students and scholars. It provides electronic preprints to students that are helpful for them to complete their research. ArVix is a significant tool that helps to upload work on this platform. Moreover, it has a moderation option that allows students and scholars to moderate their tasks.

However, it is important to keep it in mind that this software does not offer fully peer-reviewed work like Google Scholar. Some of its works are peer-reviewed and some of its works are not peer-reviewed.

The software has an affiliation with Cornell University academic standards and students and scholars have to fulfill Cornell University academic standards to use this platform

IEEE Xplore

IEEE Xplore is the best literature search software for engineering students. It helps students to find various journal articles, conference proceedings, and technical standards. Moreover, it helps students and scholars to find information regarding various subjects including computer science, electrical engineering and electronics, and allied fields.

The most important thing about this software is that it is updated on a daily basis and 20,000 new documents are added each month at this platform.

Another significant thing about this software is that they offer Index, abstracts, and full-text for various journal articles. Moreover, it offers various sources such as magazines, ebooks, conference proceedings, standards, and courses


HaL is another significant literature search tool. It is a French-based literature search engine that helps students and researchers to collect data from various sources such as journal articles and library sources. In the same manner, it is an open-source and open-access source of information collection.

The primary advantage of this site is that it helps to collect data from various sources such as Google Scholar and others. It has a perfect integration with these sites that makes it easy for users to use this software to access various sources of data. It helps researchers and scholars to collect data on various subject and use their references as well.

For downloading papers:

(not recommended though): SciHub, Libgen, etc.


Searching for an article or any other paper is an enormous task as it requires a considerable amount of time to fetch the desired article. So with the development of search engines with the addition of rich vocabulary has made life much easier in searching for some sort of data.

Such an idea is extremely helpful in conducting research where surveys & questionnaires are used in order to gather relevant data. It can also be seen that this has held to the development of other new features which has accelerated the searching and downloading papers.

For such applications, Sci-Hub and Libgen are two famous search engines that are specifically designed for searching and download the required paper.


It is basically a website that helps the viewers to search and download their required data. The website was founded by Alexandra Elbakyan in 2011 with the purpose to provide free research papers, especially for the students. It provided access to important papers for millions of users without any issues regarding copyright work.

The language it incorporates is in English and in Russian. It provides easiness in capturing important data which is free of cost and also provides in-depth insights about the papers, referring to author names, names of journal and year of publications, etc.


It is a search engine that is also known as Library Genesis that helps the viewers to search and read books that are available in its database. It uses both English and Russian language in order to make it easy for students all across the globe. Libgen allows free access to millions of users to access the content without paying any kind of premium.

It also includes the PDF version of the content from Elsevier’s Science Direct web-portal that gives access to research appears which is quite useful for research-based institutions. Overall it contributes well for the students in conducting their analysis.

For reading PDFs:

Mendeley is my first recommendation, you can use it for multiple purposes: organizing/reading/highlighting… papers. If you just want a fast launching tool, try using SumatraPDF, a very light software.

If you want to have more powerful tools such as commenting, adding signature…  Foxit Reader is one of the best choices.


PDF is a very important document is reading various documents. It provides comprehensive tools in reading the document in a much easier way.

The tools mainly included are the zoom, pan, highlighting, and other editing options. PDF is basically a format of a file and it is provided by various companies.

Mendeley: It is a company which is based in the UK and it specializes in providing different products & services especially for academic researchers. It is widely known for its reference manager which is a great source of providing access to various research articles and bibliographies.

The company has its own database that includes all kinds of academic papers which is extremely helpful for the students who are involved in extensive research work. Its main products are the Reference management software which can be installed on any operating system platform.

Furthermore, the company also offers a separate tool for citing sources in the papers without the need for software.

Sumatra PDF:

It is free to use and open-source document viewer that supports numerous file formats for easy access.  The main advantage of using this software is that it doesn’t slow down the system, unlike other applications that consume the majority of the RAM.

The specialty of this software includes the digital signature and to add comments in the file. With the addition of these features, it has helped in editing the documents much easier and has eliminated the cost of digital signature through special software.

Hence, Sumatra PDF is quite efficient and aids the beginners to edit the document without acquiring technical knowledge of the application.

Foxit Reader:

This application is launched by a Californian based company called Foxit Reader in the year 2001. It was designed with the purpose of making editing work much easier and light in operation. It makes use of portable document format software to create, sign, and to secure files from any sort of malicious activity.

The average number of users is up to over 53 million users and it can be used in any OS platform. It also has the ability to prevent files from theft and other remote hacking procedures. Foxit Reader has a great contribution in fulfilling the paperwork needs, especially for the research-based applications.

For merging/splitting PDFs:



Merging and splitting PDF files holds a significant impact on users. It is very essential for conducting office work as it perfectly aligns the documents in an appropriate way. Along with merging and splitting operations, it also includes other operations like rotating and mixing documents, etc.

The main purpose is to bring effectiveness in documentation in order to save time. It is well suited for the consulting companies that highly depend upon the documentation in terms of contracts/tenders and other associated operations with other firms.


A PDFsam is an application that deals with the merging and splitting of PDF documents. Its architecture includes an open-source cross-platform desktop application. Its main operations apart from merging & splitting include extraction of pages, rotation, and mixing of the documents.

It runs on Java platform and the specialty of this application includes the packaging of the archive documents and so it assists users in securing those documents without losing crucial data. The applicability depends upon the version that ranges from basic one to an enhanced level.

The major benefit of the supplication is the compatibility with the default Microsoft documents which is another value addition for the users in customizing their office-based applications to suit their own requirements.

For viewing/editing or even compiling codes:

Notepad++, Sublime Text, etc.


Writing codes of any website or software is a complex task. It requires a logical approach of a programmer to use it in order to run the application as desired. Writing code is a time consuming one and it demands a lot of parameters be denied correctly before compiling it.

In this regard, viewing & editing is a necessary tool for verification and correction of codes. There are many types of software that helps the programmers to write codes with ease through a user-friendly interface.


This software is based on C++ language and basically, it is a text editing software. It is used with Microsoft Windows and it includes numerous functionalities like editing, running, and compiling operations along with other tools for making the code written in a correct way.

It is distributed as free software regardless of any kind of premium or regional disparities. It aids in identifying corrections through suggestions that make it easy for the programmer to make corrections without any hassle work. Notepad also provides a basic layout for beginners in writing code and to compile it in a proper way.

Sublime Text:

Like the Notepad++, Sublime Text is also based on a text editing algorithm. It is popular due to the light operation of the program along with other distinct features such as opening the program with a click without loading times.

The functionalities of this software include multiple selections that make the coding much easier, command palette which is used for sorting or changing the index.

It consists of a powerful API & package ecosystem followed by split editing instant project switch for switch different projects. These functionalities and features make Sublime Text, one of the best choices of coding.


For collaborative documentation, research papers, and source codes in addition to version control:

Git, e.g.  Github and  Gitlab


Collaborating documents, research papers, and source codes is an important aspect of software development. It includes the element of writing codes in a more different way.

It involves extensive work in collecting the data and collaborating in order to give it a perfect look. This is the same case for research papers and source code compilation.


GitHub is a hosting company for software development by using the function called Git. Its main purpose is to provide hosting services as well as an interface to develop software through the interaction of developers in order to create & develop something new. It was founded in 2008 and it has positioned itself as the subsidiary of Microsoft Company. It aids in writing better codes through the selection and utilization of the right tools. It also provides complete code security and incorporates authentication procedures such as SAML/SSO and LDAP. It connects millions of developers to connect with each other to practice & develop coding skills.


Like the GitHub, GitLab also provides coding solutions through DevOps lifecycle tools. The main difference comes with the additional feature of issue tracking along with CI/CD pipeline features. The application runs on an open-source platform.

The application is designed in such a way that it provides speed in executing the code, employs complex toolchains which help in minimizing software integrations that might take time and cost. It features enhanced security in the loop.

The app is updated with additional features that help in conducting more customized projects with real-time sharing of data along with planning essentials that make it more agile.

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