Dissertating Resources: Proposal Phase

Admittedly, I am VERY early in my dissertation process, but I've already gathered a list of apps, programs, and manual tools that have been very helpful. [updated 9/11/2014]

  • Adobe Acrobat: This program, combined with a Samsung tablet, is the reason I've not printed off one article or draft copy. I save them as pdfs, mark and edit on my tablet while I'm on the bus, and make the changes or input the notes when I get to the web.
  • Books on Academic Thinking/Writing: This is a list I'm keeping on Pinterest. [added4/2/2014] 
  • Doctoral NetThis site has loads of free help and even more behind a multilevel pay-wall.The tools on this site have helped me think through the dissertation as a whole, the sundry pieces, and how they should fit together. [added 9/11/2014]
  • Dropbox: This makes my stuff available wherever I can connect to the web, is easy to back up to external drive (the all important just-in-case feature), has a handy text file creator, and is just plain amazing.
  • Evernote:  I put research notes, quotes, notions, journals, freewrite texts, and much more in here. It's awesome. [added 12/1/2015]
  • G-Task: Handy To-Do list that syncs with my Google accounts. [added 12/1/2015]
  • Google Keep: My new favorite note taker/task list. It captures photos, voice, and text, and syncs them across platforms. Superb! [added 3/6/2014]
  • Google Goggles: Super tool for converting a picture of text into actual text. It requires copy and paste, and a bit of text clean up, but is a super tool for Android smart phones.
  • Grammarly: Great for proofreading and plagiarism checking. I use it during final revisions. [added 12/1/2015]
  • Hemingway: Following the writing style of Ernest Hemingway, this app checks for sentences that are hard or very hard to read, phrases that have a simpler alternative, adverbs, and passive voice.  [added 12/1/2015]
  • Kindle text-to-voice: The lovely companion, in my mind, to send-to-Kindle, as this feature reads the articles and blog posts to my tired ears.
  • Moleskine: While I rarely use the plain books any longer, the calendars--a small 12-month one for personal use and a large 18-month one for work--have done much to keep me on track with projects. They are also beautiful, which I consider indispensable.
  •  PhinisheD This great site describes itself as "A discussion and support group for people trying to finish their dissertations or theses, and those who have been there." I participate in one of the weekly boards and the discussion and accountability has been invaluable. [added 4/3/2014]
  • Scrivener: Non-linear composition tool that I'm using for writing the text. Since I think in non-linear and often random bits, this has been great at allowing me to capture stuff as it comes and easily reorganize it later. It also produces output in several formats
  •  Send-to-Kindle: This Firefox add-on has been great for capturing tangential, but interesting, and wholly unrelated (re: fun) reading off the web and sending it via wifi to my Kindle.
  • The Writer's Diet: Checks my text for flabby writing. I use this during final revisions. [added 12/1/2015]
  • XMind: Desktop mindmapping software that I use when the ideas are either wholly nonlinear or too fresh for prose. Unfortunately, there's no Android app, so...
  • Zotero: This is a free bibliographic organizer that can capture info direct from the web, produce reports on selected resources, and create citations and bibliography in one of several styles (APA, Chicago, etc.). I used to use EndNote, but it was pricey. Zotero is free and does everything I've needed so far.

  • Diaro: I'm using this handy journaling app for my dissertation and personal journals. It has folders that you can select and then save contents as a pdf. It's been indispensable for capturing notions on the go and freewriting. I've transitioned to journaling and freewriting in Evernote. 
  • SimpleMind: smartphone, tablet, and cloud app that reads XMind files, is easy to use, and nicely flexible. I've stopped using SimpleMind because the transition to XMind became clunky. Others may still find it useful.
  • Wunderlist: It's a to-do list that is available across platforms. Entries can be dated or left undated for processing later. Custom folders can be created to sort things the way you like. Great stuff. I'm now using G-Task for to-do because it syncs with Google.

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(C) Laura Springer
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Musings of a peripatetic wannabe-sage by Laura Springer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License..

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