Software & Tools for Researchers

Several types of software can help to boost a researcher productivity are available. Some of which paid while other free or open source. Here you will find a list of software that I think they are very useful during research stages from conducting a study, to the writing processes and publication.


EndNote: EndNote is the leading software for articles management and citation. It is a powerful software available for Windows and Mac users. It integrates with MS-Word and support citation for various fields of study and citation styles and with powerful import and export features with different citation formats and file types. With EndNote, you can also sync your literature library with EndNote online and synchronize it with other PCs. Sharing tools are also a major advantage of EndNote. On the other hand, it has some cons as below:

  • Software updates are too slow even those urgent to fix major bugs. In some cases, the user goes to have to wait a long time till a release.
  • It lacks in modern user interface.
  • The PDF viewer offers basic functionalities.
  • Storing the library (including the PDF files) on a cloud drive on the local computer (e.g., Dropbox) results in data corruption. To avoid such an issue, the database must be set up at the local disk.
  • Sync on Mac is very slow.
  • It is expensive; however, a discounted version is available for students with half the price OnTheHub.
  • EndNote in several cases displays the short name of Journals while several journals require full journal names. In many cases, the user needs to edit the journals term list manually in her/his field of study.

Even with those cons, I have found EndNote still the best software available for literature management and citation. One good point, the support team is professional, quick in response, and available on chat and they offer a remote session to resolve the issue if required. The team also follows up with the user.

URL: http://endnote.com

Tableau is the most powerful software for data visualization, with it’s both Windows and Mac versions, it helps to understand, visualize and present data and results. Though there are various desktop and web-based alternatives, I found that Table is best. The support team is lovely and great by all means. The only issue I found with Tubule after two years of use, that it does not function properly on a virtual machine installed on a Mac. However, a standalone Mac version is offered.

The good news for students is that it is available free. You can visit the web site and apply for a free and a yearly rentable version.

URL: https://www.tableau.com

e!sanky: I found e!sankey is the professional software for flow visualization of energy and materials. It comes in two versions, the standard and the professional. The most important feature of the professional one is the live connection feature with MS-Excel. For example, the flow data on e!sankey will be updated automatically whenever the user updates the linked MS-Excel file.  However, I think the software is pricey, especially for students. From a technical support view; the support team is very useful.

URL: https://www.ifu.com/en/e-sankey

MAXQDA: A very powerful and elegant software for quantitative data analysis. Whether you deal with interviews or literature review, it is the best software to be done. Available for Windows and Mac and with a discounted and reasonable price for students. You can find almost every function you need for a simple, minimal, and modern user interface. Though importing PDF files for literature review should be an essential function in a QDA software, you might find it the best in MAXQDA. That is because it is very fast and convenient with further alternatives. Dealing with PDFs is essential, but it is problematic with other options. One other wonderful thing is that it is light and fast.

URL: http://www.maxqda.com

STAN: A very handy and useful software for doing Material Flow Analysis and I think is a must-have software for researchers deal with MFA. It is free of charge and easy to use.

URL: http://www.stan2web.net

JapRef: A great open software for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is bibliography reference manager with BibTeX file format.

URL: http://www.jabref.org

OpenLCA: A must-have open source software for any researcher deal with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or any LCA learner. The major two advantages of OpenLCA is Life Cycle Inventory data conversion, exploring LCI databases (e.g., input-output emissions and documentation), and conducting a LCA study. Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

URL: http://www.openlca.org/download

ITHOUGHTS: For mind mapping for Windows, Mac, iPad, and iPhone is so far, the best mind mapping software I ever tried in the crowded mind mapping applications. What makes it unique is its extreme simplicity and the concept that it is based upon. A lightweight software that let’s the user present and simplifies thought in a fast way and on the go even on a computer.

URL: https://www.toketaware.com

NCSS: The simplest statistical software with an elegant and user-friendly interface for several analytical tasks. A discounted version is available for students with half the price OnTheHub.

URL: https://www.ncss.com


Other software:


Quantitative Data Analysis (QDA)


English language and proofreading related software


MS-Excel add-ins


Data visualization


Other resources

The “101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication” provides a wide range list of software, web applications, and other resources. You might be interested in visiting it at http://innoscholcomm.silk.co/explore