Resources for Writers and Academics

(last updated: April 2013)

What follows is a list of resources that I have found very useful for research, writing, and teaching. I will be adding to this list on an ongoing basis and will include anything from tips on organizing data and bibliographic management to job market stuff to research to teaching, writing, and publishing. It is aimed primarily at academics, including PhD students and professors. But I think other researchers and analysts will find a lot here that is useful as well.

Software for Academics and Researchers

This is bibliographic management software developed by academics for academics with the help of a foundation grant. It is free (in contrast to Endnote, the most widely-used for-profit alternative), and in my estimation, a lot more useful than other programs I have tried. It is an ad-on for Mozilla Firefox and works through the browser. Once you download and install it, a little icon appears in the bottom left of your browser window. By selecting the icon, you can edit and build your bibliographic library. There is also an ad-on for Word (or the Mac equivalent) that you can use to insert and edit citations and references into your documents. Big advantages are that you can add to your library by searching in amazon, googlescholar or university library databases, and it prompts you to choose which citations to download. You can also add and edit references manually. Best of all, it syncs to your zotero account online, so you can access your library from any computer anywhere just by logging on to your account and opening Firefox. It can also add screenshots to your library as well as other documents such as interview transcripts and multimedia files. It is a must-have for anyone who does a lot of research and writing.  It is especially useful for doctoral students.

This is another nifty little program for academics, researchers, scholars, and a lot of other people who like to store and easily share data online. It works like google drive, and allows you to keep your files in their original format. What it does is eliminate the need to carry around pen drives so long as you have access to the internet. It is free, and when you sign up for an account on dropbox, it automatically gives you a gig of space (I now have about 20 gigs of free space because I have gotten additional space from getting others to sign up). Setting it up is pretty easy, you just need to install dropbox on each of your computers/laptops. It works like a folder that you can put anywhere in your file storage system. Then just drag and drop your files into the folder when you are done editing (or keep your active files in your dropbox folder like I do), and it automatically syncs your latest version to your dropbox account online. When you get online with any of your other computers (that have dropbox installed), it syncs the changes there as well. That way your revisions are automatically synced across all your computers, and you can also access your files from any computer anywhere so long as you are online. You can easily invite people to share your folders, which is a great way to share pictures, music files or videos with other people or an entire class. Co-authors can jointly work on files in a shared folder, eliminating the need to send the file back and forth. Finally, you have access to all the old versions of each file going back a month in case you need to work with or restore older versions.

Google Reader
This is a great resource for people who need to keep up with news from a range of blogs, newspapers and other sources on a daily basis.  What it does is allow you to add subscriptions to online sources, most of which are free. It then uses the RSS feed from each subscription to give you a running list of items from each source, listed in reverse chronological order. You can look at the entire list or look at lists by source. I have subscriptions to my favorite news blogs, plus newspapers such as the New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Harpers, The Nation, Slate, Salon, etc. If you are interested in an item in the list, you can expand it to look at the summary or click the link to go to the original article. it saves you from having to go to each and every website in order to keep updated.

Update (April 2013): Google Reader is getting phased out July 1, 2013.   I have been using Google Reader mainly as a feeder into other, more user-friendly news readers.  My favorites include:

(1) Flipboard (which makes a kind of customized virtual magazine for you, where you can look at all your content according to which stories come up first or you can read your content based on categories that you create).  I read my Google Reader content in Flipboard.  I also use
(2) Mr. Reader and Readability (which work along similar lines), and
(3) Zite (which actually uses your social media activity to select articles from the blogosphere that you are most likely to want to read.

According to The Verge, Feedly is the go-to news reader that is bound to succeed Google Reader

"Feedly appears to be the heir apparent to Google Reader’s throne, a modern take on RSS that blends some of the niceties of Flipboard (like a “magazine view”) with useful Reader features like keyboard shortcuts and tags. But its biggest advantage may be that it’s the only RSS application that also has excellent and free companion mobile apps. In a world without the ubiquitous Google Reader API, building your own mobile apps is the only way to make sure you can pick up where you left off — in this way, Feedly is the only real Google Reader alternative.
Feedly lets you divide up your feeds into folders, and even pick a preferred view for each folder — "headlines," "mosaic," "timeline," and more — which helps separate your news feeds from your photography feeds. Feedly is also generally the best-looking reader I tested, but if you aren’t happy with its white / gray / green color scheme, you can change the app’s theme to a variety of other colors. Feedly provides sharing options outside the usual gambit of social networks, like the ability to send articles to Evernote, Instapaper, and Pocket, plus an internal “Saved” folder. Feedly’s well ahead of the game in the mobile department, boasting very respectable apps for iPhone, iPad,and Android — which sync read status with Feedly on the web.
Feedly is the complete package. It’s not the minimalistic, omnipresent glory that is Google Reader, but it’s close, and in some ways exceeds Reader’s capabilities. Feedly pulls in your Reader subscriptions remarkably fast, and if the company’s upcomingNormandy API (a Google Reader API clone) can come through, we might even be in for cool new ways to interact with RSS. While it’s worrisome that Feedly is free — since we’ve all been screwed by a free app before — a Pro version is apparently on the way."

This file-sharing and -management application is one of the most popular iPad apps.  I love it because you can export any document from a dropbox or any other folder to GoodReader and it will open for easy viewing and annotation.  You can annotate any pdf file, which is great to marking up articles and books.  The screenshot below (from shows that you can highlight or underline any text just by using your fingers.  You can also add a pop-up note anywhere in the pdf file or (my favorite part) write directly in the margins of the pdf file.

You can also download files, pictures or video straight from the Internet.  For a demonstration of GoodReader file management and downloading from the web, see this youtube tutorial.

Resources for Conducting Field Work and Analyzing Data

Analyzing Field Data

Resources on Qualitative Methods

Qualitative Comparative Analysis Intro
Content/Text Analysis
Discourse Analysis
Ethnographic Research Methods

Grants and Research Proposals

Tips on Writing Research Proposals