Five Tools to Organize Your Research (Guest Post)

Research is the most important aspect of writing. Whether you are working on a paper for class or writing a blog post you hope will catch the right kind of attention, you must have facts to draw upon. That means a huge chunk of your time is going to be invested in finding and recording references, then setting up your bibliography.

Keeping all of that organized can be a nightmarish job. That is why having the right tools can make all the difference in the world. Here are five fantastic helpers that can turn your computer into a fact-curating machine:

1. Citelighter


This is a free website that acts as an online highlighter for any webpages. You highlight the facts you want (or the entire page), and it saves it to your collection. There is a feature to let you comment on or edit the fact, and it creates an automatic bibliography that can be printed out or copied for your reference. All information stored can be accessed from anywhere, just sign into your account on a supported browser. Because of this, it is accessible from most smartphones and tablets, as well as other computers.

2. Diigo


Diigo is another collection tool that works in a similar way to Citelighter, but it is a little bit more feature heavy. It offers a number of categories like Bookmarks, Notes, Images, Docs, Sticky Notes and Highlights. So you can truly gather all of your materials in one place, unlike other sites that claim to provide that ability. It is accessible through your PC or Mac, or through apps for both the iPhone and the Android models. If you are an educator, they have a free upgrade to the Diigo Education Edition. This means everyone in your classes or groups will automatically be signed up with a basic edu account without you having to do it manually.

3. Mendeley


Part research collector and part social network, you can actually share the facts and resources you curate here over the course of your research, all while getting advice and suggestions from others who know the topic you are studying. Papers can be imported from other software, and you can access it from any computer or through an iPhone app. Plus, Mendeley has a bibliography generator.

4. Zotero


If you want something a little simpler that just lets you gather, store, track and share your facts without having to go overboard on the social networking aspect, Zotero is a nice alternative. There are groups, people, forums and documentation if you want them. But, mostly, it is a storage site to keep you organized.

5. Evernote


Everyone has probably heard of Evernote, the cross-platform productivity app, and you might not have made the connection when looking for research tools. But this is a simple tool you may have already that can be used. Just collect the facts, pages and information you need. Tag it so it is easy to find, such as by project. Then access it from your phone, media device, computer or tablet.


While I would be careful of double checking to make sure all of your references are in any automatically generated bibliographies, these tools are really solid and helpful. They keep everything you need in one place, make it easy to access the information and otherwise provide sources without having to fill up a doc file and search through it later. Some are even searchable to make it that much easier.

Do you know of any good programs that allow you to organize your research notes and sources? Let us know in the comments!

Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned

Michelle is the editor behind Manifest Connection, the self-improvement blog for everyone!

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