Careful and thorough research requires time, information, collaboration, and organization. There are a myriad of online resources available to students and professionals, allowing users to access studies, papers, libraries, and articles while keeping accumulated data easily available to all team members in one convenient location. Below are five of the most useful online tools, each offering unique features that will help make research-gathering and analysis easier and more efficient.
Mendeley has over 100 million articles available and provides products and services for academic researchers. Their Reference Manager, a free web and desktop application, allows the user to create references, citations, and bibliographies in any individual format. The user can access all stored library information, insert bibliographies and references into a Word document, annotate PDF files, and collaborate with fellow users. This streamlines the research process, keeping all needed reference material in one place. According to their website, their users have “uploaded more than 400 million citations and documents into their Mendeley accounts.” Mendeley Blog - FAQ Additionally, Mendeley provides sharing opportunities. This allows researchers to share ideas, collaborate, and participate in discussions. This application also provides the opportunity to search over 677,023 job listings health jobs by field or region. Mendeley also has Featured Job and Featured Employer sections, and users can upload their resume/CV to be matched with potential employers. Mendeley was developed using feedback from actual researchers, improving many practical aspects and overall user experience.
2. Google Scholar
Google Scholar is a free academic search engine that provides extensive stores of both full text and metadata. This allows users to search a wide range of resources such as journals, white papers, patents, and articles from a large number of academic libraries, increasing the chances of finding relevant and targeted research information. (Scanmarker.com) A useful feature is the Alert, which will let the user know if a new article or research has been released in their designated field, keeping them informed of current developments. Even among multiple libraries, Google Scholar can manage papers, providing the current citation number and version of any article being read. This will help the user know if any other researcher has cited that work.
Google Scholar also has a vast legal database of U.S Cases, providing information on state appellate court cases, federal districts, tax, and bankruptcy cases, and US Supreme Court cases dating back to 1791. Google Scholar ranks results with a combined ranking algorithm “in a way researchers do, weighing the full text of each article, the author, the publication in which the article appears, and how often the piece has been cited in other scholarly literature.” (Google Scholar)
A function called “Google Scholar Profiles” allows authors to highlight their scholarly research and makes it possible to discern if other researchers are citing their articles, graph their citations over time, and calculate citation metrics. (Google Scholar) Users can create an optional Public Profile, which will ensure that the author’s name appears when an Internet search is performed. For example, a search of the name “Albert Einstein” will provide the searcher a list of web pages, PDF files, and books listing Einstein as an author, as well as how many others have cited these resources in their own work.
TeammateMe is an exciting online team-building tool that helps researchers and scholars connect with skilled professionals and find research partners and co-authors quickly and efficiently. The aggregated rating scores and anonymous reviews help researchers find appropriate partners for their research projects and papers. After assembling a qualified and reliable team, TeammateMe users have the option to converse in group chats, send direct messages to specific members, and provide anonymous feedback, all in one convenient, easy-to-use site. With TeammateMe, users can feel confident in their team and accomplish their research goals.
Users find TeammateMe effective and easy-to-use. As one user proclaimed, “TeammateMe is a great platform to build a team. I signed up and started a new team in under a minute, and I was able to easily search and reach out to potential teammates.”
Zotero is a free, open-source researching tool to find and use resources that can be integrated into a browser. As a "personal research assistant," Zotero technology can locate Internet content specifically tailored for each user, storing that content into a fully searchable personal library that can be accessed at any time. It also has over 9,000 citation styles, giving it the ability to create references and bibliographies for almost any style guide or publication. This tool is particularly helpful if one is using a new referencing system as it keeps the bibliography and references consistent. Zotero also organizes information based on the user’s preferences, can create saved searches that automatically populate with relevant data, and is able to sync information across devices, ensuring the user has the most up-to-date information at their fingertips.
Zotero also provides excellent customer support. Instead of a Customer Service team, users are able to reach out to a developer and receive a timely response. New features are added regularly, and any bugs are generally fixed within one to two days. Zotero forums allow customers to participate in discussions that directly influence the development of future software applications and features.
Last but not least, RefWorks is a web-based bibliography and database manager that allows researchers to use references from text files, other online databases, or other sources, which the user can then use to automatically format papers and bibliographies quickly and effortlessly. RefWorks can also import citations directly from library databases as well as Google Scholar. RefWorks has a “drag and drop” option and document recognition, which makes it simple to upload documents and data into the user’s library. Additionally, the “Save to RefWorks” selection allows research gathering from other websites with one simple button function.
Collaboration is streamlined on RefWorks, with all team members receiving full access to resources, as well as interacting, commenting, and annotating text in real-time. Bibliographies and citations can be created quickly, and there is a database of pre-built citation styles. Users may also request new styles, customize, or create original ones with the citation style editor. (RefWorks)
Conclusion - Work Smarter, Not Harder
From quantitative to qualitative research and from solo analysis to synergy, one of the most essential elements for any research project is having the online tools to locate, organize, cite, and format information. The proper research application can be a vital, time-saving resource for research-gathering and should be utilized for optimal productivity. By implementing technology into academic research, applications like TeammateMe can help the user reach goals, gather quality information, stay organized, and collaborate effectively and efficiently.