Are you planning to take more schooling, like a Master’s degree or a PhD, or are you already enrolled? If either of these is the case, I highly recommend you invest in ALL of these tools and I will explain why.
- Dropbox or Google Drive Both are FREE! – First thing you do not want to do is lose any or all of your documents, readings, discussion posts and replies, or assignments. In order to do this, you should create an online area where your files can be stored. This means that you create an account, download a small program and move your files to this folder. Many people are worried that this means the files will look different or they won’t be able to reach them if the internet is down – Wrong! The files look and act exactly the same. They are housed on your computer and BACKED UP on the internet in “the cloud”. This means that if your computer or flash drive breaks down, which they often do, you do not need to worry because you can download the program on another computer and login. All your files will download to that device, open, and react exactly like you are used to them doing. Just remember to write your login and password where you will remember it.
- Perrla for APA or MLA ($34.95 USD) – You may not realize that Microsoft Word for Mac does not
create the latest formatting for APA 6 or MLA 7. Professors are probably going to be sticklers about this. Perrla sets the proper margins, headers, title pages, spacing, and so much more. They have just added formatting for tables and figures. When you read the APA (and I am sure the MLA, but I haven’t read it) manual you find these details are very tedious and time-consuming to apply. Perrla guides you through 200+ citation types and explains every detail along the way.
- SPSS (Approx. $90 USD) – You’re going to need to do some data crunching and analysis, even if you think, “No, I will just do a qualitative dissertation or thesis.” Nonetheless, you will probably end up doing some predictive analytics after you gather all of your interview and case study material. SPSS is one of the most widely used statistics softwares. It is relatively cheap, is relatively simple to use (when you know what you are doing – Watch some Youtube videos about the specific types of analysis you plan to do and type “SPSS” in the search), and it is versatile.
- Atlas.ti (Approx $99 USD – with Student ID) – If you are going to delve into qualitative research, this is the cheaper way to go and still has almost all the functionality of Nvivo. It allows you to analyze and find patterns in documents, recordings, PDFs, quotes, and memos. From there you can code, organize, develop nodes, and visually represent your data in many unassuming forms.
- Evernote FREE! – Get started with this early! Use it to embed and tag articles, websites, clippings and even import text through Livescribe pen scanning ($69.95+). Search through every item you have collected to realize information you have accumulated for your comprehensive exams and your dissertations. It is an excellent and necessary way to stay organized.
- Free Natural Reader (PC) or Speech (MAC) Both are FREE! – When you are ready to turn in an assignment or submit a discussion post, you need to review it. The best way to do this is to hear it out loud. On a PC, there is no software built-in so the Natural Reader is an awesome download you need to get. Macs have an advantage in this area because they have this built-in. Go to the APPLE (in the top left corner), go to SYSTEM PREFERENCES, a dialogue box will appear, go to SPEECH, check “Speak selected text when the key is pressed”, SET KEY (I would choose OPTION + S) – Highlight some text and try out either of these options to hear it read back to you. You will notice mistakes so much easier.
- Harzing’s Publish or Perish FREE! – If you need to find the seminal articles written around a
subject, this is the software for you. Search for any subject and voilà, you have found the most cited, the highest ranked, the number of citations of the article per year, and more. Download this into Windows or a parallel system that enables Windows on a Mac, like Parallels ($79.99 USD).
- Windows and Microsoft Word for Windows – The reason I recommend using the Windows environment for post-graduate work is because many of the products listed above work naturally in this operating system. I also enjoy that Microsoft Word on PC allows for click editing of words to bold, italicize, underline and change other attributes without moving your cursor all the way to the menu bar across the top. Plus, if you opt not to buy Perrla, which I highly recommend that you do, Word on a PC has more up-to-date APA and MLA citations.
Bookmark these sites:
- Crossref – If you are using APA 6, you need to find DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers). This website allows you to reverse look up journal articles and sites to find if there is one available.
- Thesaurus.com – You are going to need to use ‘the other word’ often. When writing a paper, Microsoft Word has a bult in thesaurus, but Thesaurus.com offers, furnishes, grants, and presents more and better options.
- Smartthinking – I hope your school offers this services free of charge. They have online tutoring, essay submission and editing, APA editing, math help and so much more. It is awesome but I just examined the pricing – not so cheap. It depends upon what you need, so have a look. Well worth it for major essay editing help.
- Turnitin – Again, I hope that your University uses this service. To make sure that you are not plagiarizing, this site locates all the information that turns up from other sources. Remember, as a rule, your essays should not have more than 20% of other people’s work. After submitting an assignment, Turnitin highlights areas and determines where it has come from. Your profs may use it. You should too!
If you have other software, hardware, websites, or tricks that you use, please tell me in the comments. Finally, remember to thank me in your Dedication. Good luck with everything.