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Tools and ideas to improve academic efficiency

Academic Software Roundup for Linux

The open-source spirit (not to mention non-existent pricetag) of the Linux OS is appealing to many academics, I daresay, but they (myself included) may be hesitant to switch over to an entirely new operating system, devoid of their favourite programs. Mac users have an array of delightful programs for academic work (DEVONthink, I’m looking at you), but even us Windows users have some favourite standbys. Why make the switch over to a new system if we can’t find programs to handle our academic tasks?

I did some prowling through a very useful list of Linux apps to see if the functionality of the most important academic programs could be duplicated in Linux.

Referencer
PDF Manager, Citation/Bibliography Manager
Replacement for: Yep, Papers, EndNote

Referencer

gPapers
PDF Manager, Citation/Bibliography Manager
Replacement for: iPapers, Papers

gPapers

KeepNote
Note-taking software
Replacement for: EverNote, OneNote

KeepNote

BasKet
Note-taking software
Replacement for: EverNote, OneNote, UltraRecall

BasKet

Alexandria
Book-cataloguing software
Replacement for: Delicious Library, Books, Book Collector

Alexandria

A couple of cross-platform programs to remember if you’re considering making the switch: Zotero works on Linux, as does Mendeley.


Addendum: Some bonus Linux software links from helpful commenter Xonan!

Zim
A desktop wiki under constant development

Okular
PDF reader with highlight and commentary features

cb2bib
Extracts bibtex data from the clipboard, PDFs, etc

kdissert/semantik
Mindmapping software

Argunet
Java software for building argumentation maps

Integrate Zotero with gedit
Plugin for gedit text editor that allows to add citations from the Zotero bibliography manager to LaTeX documents

Thanks, Xonan!

Filed under: Academia, Bibliographies, Bibliography, Books, Computer, Gnome, Linux, Open-Source, Organization, PDF, Software, Tools, Ubuntu

Fluxiom: is it the solution to online PDF organization?

Fluxiom

I thought I’d found the answer to all my PDF organization needs when I stumbled across Fluxiom. This online file management/DAM solution offers the ability to upload, tag, and search files from any computer to a hosted account.

I thought that it could be a good centralized solution to DevonThink for those of us on Windows, with the added bonus of being available from any computer. Sort of like a personal Google Books.

When I saw the price, I’ll admit that I winced a bit. Nine euros for the lowest-level plan seemed a little steep. However, the site design is amazing, and the functionality seemed well worth the price.

The About page boasts that Fluxiom provides “Full text search: Fast search inside documents like PDF, Excel, Word, Powerpoint, and others.”

However… once I scrolled down to the bottom of the Overview page, I discovered to my dismay that only the Basic (29 euros/month), Pro (89 euros/month), and Deluxe (169 euros/month) plans offer the full-text search feature.

For me, the full-text search within documents was the major selling feature. And 29 euros a month is rather a stretch for any academic budget. The 9 euros I might be able to justify to myself, but 29 is a bit much…

Do any readers have an alternative online PDF organizer they’d like to share? (Or does anyone have any friends at Fluxiom who we could sweet-talk into providing full-text search on the Private-level plan?)

Filed under: Bibliographies, Books, Files, Online, Organization, PDF, Research, Tools, Web

Maple and other Windows outliners

Maple

I’ve been looking for a lightweight outliner program to handle my piece-meal thesis work. I discovered Maple, which seems to be what I was looking for, from this list of outliner programs for Windows.

It lets me organize my writing into manageable sections, then easily work on each once I have the sources at hand. Also, I can export the tree as a flat file in doc, txt, html, or rtf.

In my ideal world, it would have support for footnotes or endnotes, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Maple
By Crystal Office Systems
Free 30-day trial, $21.95 US to buy

Filed under: Computer, Files, Organization, Research, Software, Thesis, Tools, Windows, Writing

Oh, Don’t Forget…

Oh, Don’t Forget

Send yourself text messages (for free) at prescheduled times. Good for remembering meetings, tasks, and so forth, if you don’t have a PDA.

Oh, Don’t Forget…
[ via Lifehacker ]

Filed under: Computer, Online, Organization, Time Management, Tools, Web

Papers (PDF organizer, Mac only)

Papers

Yet another Mac-only app for academics…

Papers is now available in public preview. It has a really lovely user interface (reminiscient of iTunes) and previewing and note-taking ability built right into the program. It was built to house scientific papers and import straight from PubMed.

[ found via announcement at The Efficient Academic ]

Filed under: Academia, Bibliographies, Bibliography, Computer, Files, Mac, Organization, Research, Tools

Windows alternatives for DEVONthink

Many academics who use Macs swear by DEVONthink for organizing their research and files. Over at AcademHack, there’s even an entire category devoted to academic uses for the program.

I was intrigued by the organizational abilities of this program, and mourned my Mac-lessness. However, there are some alternatives for us with PCs. I’ve listed a few of the most promising DEVONthink replacements by price:

EverNote (free)
MyInfo (free 28-day trial, then $50)
AskSam (free 30-day trial, then $150 and up)
Nota Bene (free 30-day trial, then $249 and up)

Any other ideas for DEVONthink alternatives for Windows?

Addendum: This seems to be a current topic! I just discovered this thread over at The Efficient Academic group, which may also lead to some good suggestions.

Filed under: Computer, Files, Mac, Organization, Research, Software, Tools, Windows

Make eBooks for your iPod

Via this web application, you can convert both text files and websites into notes readable on your iPod.

This might be a clever idea. Or it might be a very speedy way to make yourself go blind.

Create ebooks on your iPod
[ via Lifehacker ]

Filed under: Books, Computer, Files, Online, Reading, Tools, Web

Citavi – coming soon?

Citavi

I’m impressed by the interface and capabilities of reference manager Citavi, but for the moment it’s only available in German. However, they do apparently have plans to release an English language version.

I’m tempted to download the free version, even if it is in German, just to see how it all works together. Too bad it’s not French– I could handle working in French. But I know absolutely no German whatsoever.

Citavi [ via The Efficient Academic Google Group ]

Filed under: Academia, Bibliographies, Bibliography, Computer, Files, Organization, Research, Thesis, Tools, Windows

More Bibliographical Management Tools

After my last post, two helpful commenters suggested some further tools to consider for managing references.

Michael Dunn suggested JabRef, a bibliography reference manager that works with BibTeX format.

Rick suggested wikindx, a bibliographic and quotations/notes management system that can be used for either the single-user or for collaborative efforts.

While investigating these leads, I also came upon the Bibliophile Initiative, whose goal it is to “promote collaboration between developers and end-users of bibliographic databases.” They maintain a list of bibliographic database applications and utilities which I found to be a useful tool.

A big thank you to Michael and Rick for your help and suggestions.

Filed under: Academia, Bibliographies, Bibliography, Computer, Files, Online, Organization, Research, Software, Thesis, Tools, Web

Web 2.0 Bibliographical Management roundup

Since I use multiple computers, my dream is to manage my bibliographical information online. I haven’t yet found a Web 2.0 (as in a central online solution) to successfully manage all of my bibliographical information. But I haven’t yet given up hope!

These are the various solutions I’ve found thus far. Perhaps they may be of help to others:

CiteULike
Connotea
Easy Bib (they also offer the more powerful paid MyBib Pro, which I’m considering)
RefWorks

Any other suggestions?

Filed under: Academia, Bibliographies, Bibliography, Computer, Online, Reading, Research, Software, Thesis, Tools, Web

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Academic Lifehacker provides hints, tips, tools, and software recommendations for scholars, graduate students, and researchers.