Apps for Research Students

Best Apps for Research Students

In this piece, I have curated a list of fabulous tools and apps that are helpful for research students in many aspects.

Nowadays, students/researchers are using their mobile phones for academic reasons. Smartphones also help students to conduct research. And that is a huge reason as:

Whether a student is:

  1. Google’ ing, Wikipedia, facebook’ ing; saving a resource, taking a picture of an important topic so they don’t have to check out the whole book, or sharing a pdf from one account to another.
  2. Seeing if the National Archives, twitter, or Questia makes more sense for what they are searching for;
  3. Need to ask a teacher, a peer, or a community member about the best source for a specific data point or tidbit;
  4. Need to ping Reddit, quora, Google+, or Instagram community to see what important guiding question they are failing to ask…
  5. Using a smart device–whether from Google, Apple, or Windows–is often the easiest and smooth way for them to do so.

Coupled with a notepad and a pencil, a tablet or smartphone–and all the apps and internet gives you access too–can make for a powerful combination. Below are the best research apps for iPad and Android, headed by different sub-heading as per the category.

Apps to discover content in your field

For being a good researcher, you need to be well versed in current hot topics in your industry or field. So you might be thinking about any traditional news app? That’s a bad idea. Better try one of the following apps.

ResearchGate App
ResearchGate App

1. ResearchGate helps you to keep up with the latest research and discover interesting research in your field

2. Paperity is a multidisciplinary aggregator of open access journals.

3. Refind helps you to discover, save, and ultimately read more of what’s worth your attention

4. Questia gets the powerful search results from 10 million articles from 1000+ leading publishers around the world.

5. Researcher App provides 15,000+ high-quality journals on 10 different subjects. It also lets you and your peers share research updates like social media feed.

6. Flipboard is like your personal magazine. Just pick your interests and get daily fresh articles from the web into your news feed.

Read more about apps to discover content for research.

Apps to create citations for research

Adding citations to your research paper or thesis is very important and can become tedious at times. That’s why I did a little research and found these useful apps to help you out.

1. Zotero

2. Redcube Papers App

ReadCube Papers App

3. Docear Academic Literature Suite

4. JabRef

5. Paperpile

6. Citation Maker

7. MarginNote2

8. Bookends

9. Ref n Write

10. Citavi

Check the complete article on Best Apps to create citations for research

Apps for taking Notes and Annotating Research papers

You may need apps to take notes when your research is in progress. Ideas can come anytime and anywhere. Maybe you are traveling, studying or even while hanging out with friends. So you need at least one great app to note down your thoughts. You might want to add your notes on the top of other research papers in pdf format. This might be very important especially when you are dealing with a lot of pdf files. Here are some apps which I suggest for you.

Evernote (Android / iPhone / Web)

Evernote, an early leader in the digital note-taking space. It shaped expectations about what a note-taking app should look and what types of functions it should do.

Here is a great beginner’s guide to Evernote

Beginners Guide to Evernote

It supports a wide variety of note types (text, audio memo, images, scanned documents, checklists, sketches, and clipped web pages). The app is available for all the major platforms, and with a Business account, you can even use Evernote for real-time chat and collaboration with colleagues (research project with peers).

The most impressive feature of Evernote is, its ability to search text found in images. Premium or Business account of Evernote lets you search the text in uploaded PDFs and office documents. You can use the app for pretty interesting projects.

GoodReader (iPhone/iPad)

GoodReader, a super-robust PDF reader that is a perfect combination of document-reading and file-managing capabilities. This single app caters to all your document needs when you’re on the go with your iOS device. The app is a professional tool to read, annotate, edit and manage files such as PDF, MS Office, TXT, HTML, also you can listen to audios, watch videos and view pictures. 

A perfect app to maintain the huge collection of files and folders with the feature of auto-sync folders to remote servers. With the advanced reading and editing option of GoodReader, you can crop, insert, delete, rotate, rearrange, split the PDF.

Downloading, connecting with Google Drive, One Drive, Box, SugarSync, and Dropbox is very convenient.  The app provides you with a completely new UI design with amazing data security features.

It is not available for Android.

Notability (iPhone/iPad)

How is Notability useful for you? Check this Video

With a highly intuitive interface, This is an excellent note-taking and PDF annotating app, regularly ranked as #1 by people. Notability is the best apps for people who’re just starting to learn how to write notes on PDF files on the iPad. The app comes with a tutorial that shows readers how to use the various functionalities of the app. 

Notability packs a punch of functionalities, featuring functions such as handwrite and sketch using beautiful ink; zoom-writing to smoothly jot down notes; import Google Docs, Sheets, PDFs, and Slides as PDFs; fill out and sign PDF forms; copy, paste, and highlight, and search PDF text…and many more.

You can choose the paper color, style as well as font size with which they prefer to read PDF files. The app allows you to sync documents through cloud services like Dropbox, iCloud, and Google drive.

Overall, the app proves to be an excellent tool that supports PDF annotation with an iPad pro pencil. Though the app is a bit pricy ($9.99) but offers some powerful features.

PDFExpert (iPhone/iPad)

An ultimate PDF app for anyone who reads, highlights, signs and fills out PDFs on their iPhone and iPad. As the name implies, PDF Expert is an iPad pro PDF annotation app. With the app, you can open PDF files directly from cloud services like Google Drive, iCloud, sign documents, and fill forms. 

With annotation functionalities like shapes, strikeouts, and highlighters, the app makes an exciting experience in terms of making PDF annotation with iPad pro pencil. You can also rearrange, add and delete PDF pages. 

The app comes with an inbuilt compressor that allows you to zip files with a password. With the pro version of the app, you will acquire the unique superpower to edit existing PDF text, replace images and hide sensitive data.

Project Management Apps (for team research projects)

This is a very important category, especially for team projects. Even in individual research projects, you may want to plan your project properly so that you are in total control and you dont miss any important task. Here are a couple of apps that lie in this category.

Trello (Web / Android / iPhone)

This is how you can use Trello for research

Trello helps you to keep your project organize and you can easily integrate with various productive apps. You can collaborate on projects from beginning to end with your team and search, filter and label all the needed information. You can easily sync your research project in all of your devices, allowing to manage work and collaborate with the team anywhere, anytime.

Trello is free of cost available offering basic services (manage a project of any size). The Business plan is available for $9.99 per user per month and the Enterprise plan is available at $20.83 per user per month (for up to 100 users).

Asana (Web / Android / iPhone)

What is Asana? How can it help you?

Whether for small or complex projects, check out Asana, an effective tool for tracking and managing projects. This is a great task management app. Unlike other project management apps, it comes with an intuitive and simple UI. Task prioritization helps teams to be more productive and efficient. Also, all the changes are updated in real-time.

It helps to keep track of what’s important and shows the pieces of projects together in a timeline, also enables you to move work through multiple stages quickly and easily. Everyone can see how work is progressing, what’s on track, and what’s need immediate attention.

The app is easy to use and retrieval of historical data and notes is very easy. For the advance feature, the premium plan is for $10.99 per user per month, a Business plan at $24.99 per user per month.

Apps to Save or Curate links

Research students like you browse a lot on the web. Sometimes you would find an article which is very helpful, but you dont have time, you would like to read it later. This happens quite a lot with me. For such instances, you need apps to save/curate/manage links on the web. You can also save references on the web using these apps.

Check this detailed article which lists the best apps to save and organize links on the web.

Diigo is first in the list, which is also called Research Browser. You always don’t need the full page. Sometimes you just need a quote. Diigo is specially designed for those research projects. You can save web pages and PDFs to your library, highlighting anything you need to remember by adding notes for your own reference.

Check this Youtube playlist to learn Diigo

Organize your Research with Diigo is one of the best in this category. You can save everything you want (link, video, pdf, image, audio and much more) to read/view later and also be able to keep them fully organized. It syncs your data across all of your devices.

Evernote Clipper helps you to clip your useful online information to Evernote. Your clipped content is available on all of your devices and you can even search within your clipped content. Check this article for more.

Instapaper and Pocket can help you read your saved articles offline, Both these apps support reader-mode where there are no ads, no distractions (which are there on original article).

Scan Research Papers(or Docs) to Digital format

Evernote Scannable (iPhone/iPad)

Evernote Scannable app captures documents beautifully and quickly, It transforms the document to high-quality scans that you can save and share instantly.

The app offers fast and immediate scanning, plus options to save or share/export documents as PDF and JPG files. Moreover, it can turn your business cards into contacts as it fetches information from them, or from LinkedIn, which you can save to your contacts list.

The app is feature enrich such as – It works with ScanSnap Evernote Edition Scanner to deliver multipage documents to your desired destination. An Intelligent file sharing the app with Text-parsing technology.

Microsoft Office Lens (Android / iPhone)

The best scanner app for documents. You can use it to scan any type of picture or document to make it readable again. The app can convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint Files. You can also use this app to share your documents and back-them-up via OneDrive.

The only document scanner App that allows you to save files to OneNote. Also, if you are interested in editing documents using the Microsoft Office package, this will be your permanent choice as it’s from Microsoft itself. Microsoft is known for its quality and accuracy.

Adobe Scan (Android / iPhone)

Adobe Scan, a dedicated scanning app from Adobe, the creators of the PDF file. Adobe Scan uses your camera to catch a copy of a document to convert into a PDF file. The preview option lets you optimize the file dimensions, and you can rotate, crop, and edit the color when required.

The main advantage of using Adobe Scan is its close integration with Adobe’s other apps. This means you can not only scan into PDF document format but also edit, annotate, sign and work collaboratively with the documents that you do the scan. 

The app automatically stores every scan of yours on Adobe Document Cloud, so your scans are accessible from any smart device.

Adobe Scan is a free app to use, there is also an in-app subscription available for additional features. 

Scanbot (Android / iPhone)


Scanbot, Considered to be the Instagram of documents cause it provides many features along with scanning documents, searching inside them, and recognizing text.

The app allows you to deal with the scanned document as a photo to add your touches using many optimize tools and make it colorful, colorless. 

It also has a feature of instantly scan QR codes and Bar codes to identify products, items, and reach websites within seconds.

You can also share your scanned documents via many cloud services like Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, Evernote and more and can perform OCR in 60 languages. You can use the app as a document reader with features like highlighting text, adding notes, adding your signature.

Ultimately, the Scanbot makes sense only for people who really need the extra features.

Effective Time Tracking Apps

When you are a research student, time is really very important for you. You definitely want to know where you spend most of your time on a daily basis (or weekly basis). That can help you improve in your precious time management.

Check this detailed article which lists the best apps to track your time effectively on any device.

Here are a few apps which I suggest for you.

RescueTime is more of an automatic time tracker as compared to others on this list. This tool automatically tracks your productivity based on pre-grouped categories. For example, it classifies Tik-Tok as “very distracting,” and Wikipedia as “very productive.” You just need to install it and forget it. This is my favorite tool among other time trackers.

RescueTime time tracker app
RescueTime time in action

ATracker time tracker app, lets you track time spent on each of the tasks on a daily basis. It provides aesthetic bar or pie charts for your analysis.

Toggl Time Tracker is another sleek and feature-rich time tracker app which is helpful when you are switching between multiple research projects.

aTimeLogger app is not just for tracking your time on your research but can also act as your personal time tracker. It can help you improve by pointing out your short term and long term goals in terms of time management.

Apps to Mask disturbance in research

If you want to focus on research, you want to be away from unnecessary notifications on your smartphone (aka digital disturbance). Here are some apps that help you mask physical (background noise at your place) and digital disturbance.

White Noise (Android / iPhone)

A miracle for better concentration! If you want to fall concentrate on the sounds of ocean waves or other soothing sounds, White Noise is a sleep app for you. The app is consists of 40 white noise sounds curated to help you focus on your work.

Loaded with several looped sounds, such as a burning campfire, a boat swaying, and thunder. You can mix and match soundscapes to create playlists. It also offers a gentle alarm such as a guitar strum, chime or violin to encourage a restful rising. Sounds come paired with images.

myNoise (Android / iPhone)

Mask the noise you dislike with myNoise app. This simple concept works extremely well. With natural sounds, industrial sounds, tonal drones, atmospheres, voices, soundscapes, and transports, there really is something for everyone.

The app has a noise color mixer, allows you to create a soundscape of your favorite noise colors. 

The app not only helps you to focus on your work in a noisy environment but also helps to settle your anxiety. It is really hard to beat myNoise in terms of variety and flexibility.

Daywise for Android

Daywise Inbox
Daywise Inbox

This is for blocking so-called digital disturbance. Don’t get distracted with the continuous notifications from the apps. See only important notifications and view the others later on.

It categorizes your apps on the basis of instant and batched, you can also select the VIP’s that can interrupt you during work hours. You can also create your custom rules and improve your phone habits with Daywise. Check it out now.

Join Communities Online for peer help

Research communities on Reddit

Online communities help you to interact with people globally. With the different research communities that are available online, you can put your question or get the answer to your question. Some best research community on Reddit as per our survey are:

  1. /r/WantToLearn
  2. /r/scientificresearch
  3. /r/research

Research communities on Quora

Looking for content that answers niche questions around specific research-related topics, Quora is the perfect solution. Quora is all about finding the answers to your specific research questions with accuracy and efficiency. Top Research communities on Quora are:

  1. Researchers
  2. Research Methodology
  3. Academic Papers
  4. Scientists

Other Tools

Plagiarism Detector tools

The tool helps you to check plagiarism in your research work by matching your research work against billions of webpages on the Internet. Some of the best Plagiarism Detectors are

Grammar tools

The Grammar tools for writing research papers help you to get rid of basic English grammar errors and improve your research work using its advanced grammar rules, spell check and Vocabulary Enhancement features. Best out of them all which I personally use is Grammarly

Here are the download links for Grammarly based on your device:

Free Statistical tools

Data analysis is the scariest aspect of completing research, so, here we come with some best Free Statistical tools for your research needs.

Graphpad (Link)

Statistics Calculators Online (Link)

Free Statistics Calculators by Danielsoper (Link)

Social Science Statistics Calculators (Link)

If you want more of these, please leave a comment below.


I have touched a lot of aspects of research in the article.

I covered apps that can help you discover new content in your research area, apps that can help you create citations for your next research paper in proper formats.

I also discussed the apps that can help you take notes of your ideas and annotate your pdf docs and research papers. Apps like Asana and Trello can help you manage your research projects.

Then we moved on to apps to save links for reading later and scanning your paper documents to digital format.

Then there are a set of apps that are indirectly helping you to research better, like those which help you to track your time, apps which lets you block the background noise.

I also suggested a few online communities of researchers which will broaden your research methodology.

In the end, I wrapped up with some miscellaneous research tools like Grammarly (to improve and correct your grammar while you write your research paper), free statistical tools and tools to detect plagiarism.

I might have missed something. I am open to suggestions in the comments section.

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Best Apps for Research Students

by Mohit Sehgal time to read: 13 min