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Top Apps & Software to Improve Workflow & Productivity for Researchers

Trello is a project management platform that allows you to create a visual board of action items. It improves and organizes your workflow by allowing you to organize your different projects using cards and lists, that can then be as described as general or as detailed as you want. You can easily add descriptions, photos, and attachments to your cards. If you’re a visual learner, like me, this is one of the best project management apps out there. It reduces the need for emailing and excessive communication by its functionality. I find Trello combines 2-3 other different apps into one, in the best ways.

Mendeley is a free literature management app – cite as you write, annotate as you read, import references, access from anywhere, and great add ons. If you’re a researcher that spends a lot of time reading, citing, and referencing loads of peer-reviewed papers, this can dramatically help your workflow. It captures information like authors, title, and publisher when you import PDFs from various sources. It essentially creates a searchable literature library that allows you to organize and categorize your materials in a customizable, systematic way. Having a centralized system where you can easily site and jot down your thoughts is key in being able to conduct your research and produce a well-written paper.

Slack is an awesome way to directly message and communicate with all your team members while keeping it organized in a centralized, single place. You can create designated channels for your company that can be used to separate different departments or topics of your business – such as sharing marketing files or announcements. In addition, it maintains organization with centralized spaces for conversations, files, tools, and people. I find it’s super easy to share any type of file, whether it’s an image, pdf, word document, video, or link. Essentially it streamlines communication and collaboration so that everyone stays engaged, involved, and focused on their tasks. Additional features include voice/video calls and a way to collab with teams at other companies as well.

Researchgate is a great platform that many individuals are probably already familiar with. It gives you access to over 135 million publications with built-in community features that easily allow researchers to share, collaborate, and discover new papers. Additionally, it provides extensive analytics as to who has been looking at your work and keeps track of all your citations. It has over 17 million users and is one of the best online research communities to join.

Evernote is an incredible app for note-taking, tasks, and scheduling – all in one place. Here, you can create your personal set of notes, ideas, lists, and more for your reference. You can create tasks, set reminders, upload photos, scan documents, save web pages, attach PDFs, and really integrate all of your most important shorthand things on here. Essentially, it’s a personal library where you can customize it any way you want to. I enjoy its search capabilities and the well-designed layout it provides for your note organization and priority lists. The dashboard and widget features are nice too as it helps to organize all of your saved items in a compact manner.

SciNote is an electronic lab notebook application that helps to organize data and projects in one centralized place. With a super user-friendly interface, this works well for academic and industry researchers who want to better share experimental data with their teams. I find that it helps get everyone on the same page, which ultimately helps with project clarity and reproducibility. It certainly makes searching for keywords and data a little easier with search functions and also assists with onboarding new staff by catching them up to speed with experimental procedures.

Dropbox is a great system to organize, upload, and share files and content. Overall, it’s one of the best cloud content management systems that do the job really well. You can create comments, tabs, and labels for your files – and also assign your team members tasks, such as reviewing and commenting on specific documents. It’s nice that there are different options of storage levels depending on the size of your business. I find it’s an effective place to keep large sets of photo albums, PDF documents, and even company videos that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere.

Promega is an app that provides reference information and tools for life scientists. It has quick biomath calculators, video protocols, reference materials, search functions, and other features and built-in tools such as for example – making it easier to do a dilution at your benchtop experiment. This app can streamline common laboratory procedures and calculations such as dilutions, conversions, and more.

Genius scan is a super handy app that’s basically a scanner in your pocket. With Genius Scan, you can quickly scan paper documents on the go and export them as multi=page PDF documents. When you’re in the field, away from a scanner/printer, this app can come in clutch when you need to produce and email off a critical PDF document on the fly. Essentially, you take a picture of your document and then it crops it, cleans it up, and automatically creates a legible PDF. I find it can save you a lot of time and energy on the go when you don’t have time to find a printer. Sometimes I use this over a printer as it’s quicker and can do the same quality job.

Google Scholar is a wonderful, broad research tool that serves as a quick way to do a general search for literature. You can look for peer-reviewed papers, articles, books, abstracts, etc. from a wide variety of sources including universities, academic publishers, and other websites. Along with all of the other free Google workplace platforms (such as Google docs), it’s very easy to use and acts as an awesome quick tool to find relevant literature you might be looking for. You can also create a public author profile on it as well. I find that for quick research or early on for a research project Google Scholar is a great place to start in locating literature.

Quick plug for our own app, SoBoDASH – which was designed as a database and software to help manage, digitize, and track lab animal colony data (including zebrafish colony management) all in one place within a cloud-based system that is accessible to all team members.

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