8 Must-Have Tools for Researchers in 2023 (Including AI)
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A growing number of researchers are already using AI tools to improve their work exponentially.
I am referring to all kinds of academic researchers here, including:
- Computer scientists,
- and social scientists.
Among other benefits, AI allows them to analyse large amounts of data and uncover patterns and insights. In one study, AI systems were found to be 87% accurate in detecting a disease state, and 93% accurate in clearing patients. From improved accuracy and efficiency to faster results and more data points, AI is revolutionizing research across the globe and opening up exciting new opportunities.
If you want your research to stand out, there’s no substitute for hard work and hours of study. However, whether you’re a student writing a paper or a professional trying to establish yourself in your field, software tailored to your needs can make that hard work go exponentially further. From data analysis to collaboration tools, the best research tools can streamline your workflow, increase productivity, and improve the accuracy and reliability of your findings.
In this article, we'll explore the top 8 tools for researchers and explain some lesser-known tips for using them to save time and hassle in your academic or scientific endeavors.
SciSpace — formerly Typeset — is a brilliant tool for academics and researchers who create white papers, technical documentation, or research papers.
Created with the aim of “making science more collaborative and accessible,” SciSpace allows users to search its expansive database for papers, authors, and topics of interest. Once you’ve found sources, you can use innovative AI features such as “summarize introduction” or “dataset used” to help you quickly understand and digest complex and lengthy research papers. These features feel reliable and highly useful, providing accurate and informative answers when tested.
The homepage also promotes popular research papers, highlights the most-read journals at that point in time, and displays the trending research topics of the day, so is a great place to discover new information.
Plus, SciSpace offers a fast and efficient citation generator in 2,551 different citation styles — including American Psychological Association and Modern Language Association — as well as auto-ordering citations.
You can get started with SciSpace for free by heading to the website and creating an account — this offers up to 30 output previews, downloads of up to 1000 words, and 5 bibliography downloads. But if you’d prefer access to unlimited output previews, bibliographies, and downloads, you’re better off upgrading to a paid account starting at $8 a month.
2. Wordtune Read
Need to get up to speed with complex, lengthy information in a short amount of time? Then you'll love Wordtune Read.
This AI reader summarizes long documents for you so you can digest more information faster. You can source this material however you like, whether online or from your own archives—upload a PDF, paste in a link, or simply copy text into the reader. Whichever you choose, Wordtune Read will provide you with a succinct list of easy-to-understand bullets.
Wordtune Read offers a free plan that allows you to get five pieces of content summarized each month. If you find it helpful, you can upgrade to one of the premium plans, starting at $9.99 a month.
Visual project management tool Trello is a free web-based platform that allows you to organize ideas, tasks, and projects in an efficient and aesthetically pleasing way. It’s a perfect organization tool for people who value simplicity — and color coding.
Trello allows you to organize your projects into boards containing various lists, or “cards,” to sort your tasks onto. Within each list, you can break down each task further by adding notes or to-dos. The website describes itself as similar to a whiteboard filled with Post-it notes, where each Post-it is a task with further detail attached.
Trello is also a brilliant tool for collaborating with team members; you can share your boards, give collaborators editing access, and assign tasks and deadlines to team members. The platform also integrates with other tools, such as Google Drive. This makes it easy to access and store research data, even on your phone via the Trello mobile app.
If 10 free boards aren’t enough for you, Trello also offers premium plans—the cheapest of which starts at $5 a month.
GanttPRO is another project management tool that can help researchers track their progress and plan upcoming tasks. It’s a little bit more in-depth than Trello; as the name suggests, it enables users to create Gantt charts as visual timelines and task lists, making it easy to keep track of deadlines and track project progress.
Gantt charts are brilliant for helping you gain a visual overview of your project, demonstrating the relationship between task start and end dates, important project milestones, impending deadlines, and any tasks that depend on other tasks being finished before you can get started.
GanttPRO also provides detailed collaboration features that enable researchers to work together more efficiently, such as assigning comments, inserting links into descriptions, attaching files, and receiving real-time notifications. For this reason, I’d recommend this tool for researchers collaborating with other academics, rather than those working alone (Trello is probably preferable in that instance).
While it’s a little less beginner friendly than a program like Trello, GanttPRO has an extensive learning center on its website that can help researchers get familiar with all the features.
Though you can trial it for free, GanttPRO doesn’t offer a free plan. The Basic plan costs $9.99/month for one user, or $7.99/month if split between 5 users.
ResearchGate is a free professional network for scientists and researchers. The platform allows students or researchers to connect with other academics, ask questions, get answers related to their research, and find resources to help them in their studies.
This tool is particularly useful for students—you can reach out directly to the author to request full texts from researchers, which is invaluable if you find a paper that could enhance your own research. You can also see where papers have been referenced in other research, which can provide a useful trail for you to follow to gain more insight into your chosen subject.
In particular, ResearchGate is a great way for students or researchers to stay up-to-date with the latest research in their field. There’s even a feature that allows you to publish your research and get feedback from peers, a great tool for academics looking to improve their work.
6. Cite This For Me
Picture the situation: you’ve spent hours composing a research or academic paper and have finally finished—only to realize that all your references are in the wrong format.
Cite This For Me, an online tool that can automatically generate Harvard, APA, and MLA citations and bibliography entries, can take the struggle out of formatting citations. It’s free and simple to use—just add the relevant details of the website, book, or journal you’ve referenced and you’ll have your citation in seconds. You can then paste this into your work.
It also offers a plagiarism checker, which checks your paper against billions of sources for any accidental plagiarism—though you do have to upgrade to use this feature. The website doesn’t make it extremely clear how much this costs, but it looks like a monthly payment of $6.99 or a one-off payment of $19.99 gives you access to the full version.
Scrivener might be better known as a must-have tool for writers, but it's also perfect for researchers and students. Ideal for long-form content, Scrivener works as both an outliner and word processor and makes it easy to manage and organize outlines, notes, concepts, research, documents, and your final draft—all in one interface.
Each Scrivener project is organized as its own filing system and has three root folders: Draft, Research, and Trash. These folders are present in every project, but otherwise, you can organize them as you like. The Research folder alone is a powerful tool that can store various types of files, including text files or notes, PDFs, graphics, audio files, videos, and photos. Add an overview to each section in any folder for a simplified view of your project as a whole.
When writing in the Draft folder, you can add outline elements to each section and move sections around with Scrivener's drag-and-drop interface, so you don't have to worry about writing your paper in chronological order. Scrivener can also sync between your Mac, Windows, or iOS devices with the help of Dropbox.
When you’re done drafting, Scrivener makes it simple to compile the various portions of your manuscript into a single document and export it.
Scrivener costs $49 for a lifetime Windows or Mac license for a single device, though you can get 15% off if you're a student or academic. You can also test-drive it with a free 30-day trial or get it at a reduced rate of $23.99 on an iOS device.
8. Google Scholar
Google Scholar is a free search engine that focuses entirely on scholarly literature and academic sources. All you need to get started to find relevant research is a Google account.
Google Scholar is super easy to use, as its interface is similar to that of the Google search engine. There are, however, a number of useful differences. For instance, you can copy a citation in various formats, export bibliographic data, and explore related links to find, for example, publications that have cited the listed work.
Another Google Scholar hack for researchers is the ability to locate an open-access version of a paid source. Below an article's title and short description are links, including "Save" and "Cite." If Google finds another version of the article, there will also be a link to "All versions." You can click this to see if there are any open-access versions of an article locked behind a paywall.
Time to start your research
Whether you need to collect and organize data with a tool like Scrivener, use Wordtune Read to summarize a lengthy source, or plan out your project on GanttPRO, there’s a tool on this list to help make your research process easier and more efficient.
By letting AI and other tools do the repetitive work for you, you can save time while staying accurate and focusing your energy on the most important, innovative parts of your research.