iPad for Academia

Discussion in 'iPad' started by DarumaBlue, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. DarumaBlue macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2009
    I'm considering purchasing an iPad to inaugurate the start of my PhD program beginning in Fall. I'm wondering if the iPad would make a useful tool for a graduate student. Here are the circumstances:

    I currently use a MacBook with a suite of DevonThink, Sente, Pages, Mellel and Skim to do pretty much everything I need done for my studies. I also study Japanese, but for that I mostly use a couple dictionary apps on my iPhone 3g and occasionally the dictionary built into Leopard.

    The most important question is whether the iPad offers a program that allows the highlighting of PDFs. Currently when I highlight PDFs in Skim, I can move those to DevonThink and the highlighting will be preserved. I know Sente for the iPad allows highlighting but I haven't been able to figure out of that highlighting is preserved in other PDF readers.

    Are there any other grad. students or academics out there or even Japanese language learners who have made use of the iPad and feel it is worth the investment (on a graduate student budget)?
  2. deeddawg, Mar 3, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011

    deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    I'm in an MBA program and highlight LOTS of PDF's. The app I chose is Noterize and it works well with being able to download/upload documents to Dropbox and other mechanisms. Highlights and annotations get re-embedded in the PDF and I find it works very well to highlight a document prior to printing hardcopy on my macbook.

    There are other apps as well, but for $3 I'm very happy with the functionality of Noterize.

    Edit: as it turns out although I was happy with Noterize for the price, I'd been growing increasingly impatient with the page switching time. I did some more looking around and ended up switching to PDF Expert as it is significantly faster in that aspect. It also does a better, more organized job of working with Dropbox.)
  3. natecannon macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I've been using an iPad in my PhD program for the last year since it was first released, and I can't imagine going back. It's the only thing I bring with me to campus anymore 99% of the time. In fact, I'm so vocal about its usefulness/awesomeness that I've gotten my advisor and and three other professors to buy one as well!

    I recently started using Sente as well (switched from EndNote) and have been very pleased. Sente does a marvelous job at keeping everything (including highlighting/annotations) in sync between your Mac and your iPad, but unfortunately those annotations aren't automatically baked in to the PDF, meaning they aren't preserved in other PDF readers. You can manually export your PDFs from Sente with the annotations included, which is nice, but its an extra step. They have great customer service though and are constantly updating things, so hopefully something is in the pipeline.

    I've tried a number of different iPad apps for PDF annotations (iAnnotate, ReaddleDocs, etc), but GoodReader in my opinion is by far the best I've used. It can handle pretty much any file you throw at it (PDFs, MS Office files, audio/video, etc), and the annotation tools are intuitive and easy to use. And all your annotations are baked in so you can view them from any other PDF reader. It also works as an excellent file manager for your iPad. You can designate specific folders to sync with Dropbox so that all your files stay wirelessly in sync with your MacBook. (As a sidenote, Dropbox is the greatest thing that ever happened to the iPad. If you don't already use it, you should definitely start.)

    I've also used numerous note taking apps that all frustrated me, but I'm currently really satisfied with Notability. It lets you use hierarchical bullet points (amazing that so many apps don't do this...), has a nice clean interface, and lets you record lectures at the same time. Tap on any word after your done recording, and the recording will automatically start from that point. Pretty slick.

    I say starting your PhD this fall provides the perfect excuse to treat yourself to an excellent iPad investment. I would make sure to get it well before the semester starts though to make sure you have your workflow down pat. It took me quite a while (lots of shopping around and experimenting with apps) before I felt like I was set.

    Hope that helps!
  4. Shoefly22 macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2011
    Doing grad school myself, I highly suggest something like GoodReader for $5, which organizes the PDFs and allows annotation and other tools.

    Also look at getting a stylus to do notes.
  5. iketeru macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2007
    +1 for Goodreader. about to graduate soon, but gone are the days of printing out papers- having the iPad has saved many a tree!
  6. kuwisdelu, May 13, 2011
    Last edited: May 13, 2011

    kuwisdelu macrumors 65816

    Jan 13, 2008
    Same situation here. I'm about to enter my department's PhD program in the fall, and I'm getting an iPad 2 to celebrate the MS completion.

    My plans for academic-related use:

    1. iAnnotate and Goodreader for reading and marking up journal article PDF's. I have a friend who got a refurb iPad 1 solely for this purpose.

    2. iSSH/Prompt to connect to the department's Linux cluster and use the iPad as a thin client. Since I'd only have the command line and X forwarding from my MacBook Pro anyway, an iPad 2 + bluetooth keyboard is just as capable and easier to carry around campus.

    3. Screens/Logmein for remotely accessing my MacBook Pro from campus or anywhere else if I really need any full OS X capabilities or to check on any analyses I have running on the quad-core i7.

    4. Notes Plus/uPad to take notes in courses, seminars, etc., and keep them all on my iPad, so I can reference any of them any time. I bought a capacitive stylus and plan to practice before the semester starts, since I'm sure there's a bit of a learning curve.

    I'd love to hear other ideas, as well! (I'm in the statistics department, myself, by the way.)
  7. asdfx3 macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2010
    Another vote for goodreader and dropbox.

    Does anyone know of an app that can read MS Word files and show comments and/or changes (when track changes is active)?
  8. metanoiac macrumors member

    Jan 21, 2012
    So much worth it - especially when you can integrate it with your Mac!

    I got my iPad the moment it came out and I find it very useful for grad school and academia; in fact I am trying to spread the word by blogging about cool uses for the iPad in academia.

    My absolute favourites are also the PDF management apps such as Papers and Sente. I tried both, and I am always on the fence. For me it is important to sync with the mac, thats why I am probably making the switch over to Sente (expensive), because they have cloud based syncing and their highlighting workflow is top-shelf! If only their iPad app would not be so 2010, hope they will pick up some cues from the new iBook2.

    Also don't underestimate the iPad for writing! I know, i know, no one wants to type a dissertation or article on the touch keyboard. Thats what external keyboards are for. I am using iA Writer for much writing on the Mac, and when I am home and want to add something, I can do this from the iPad. It has cloud support. Now I don't have to carry home my laptop all the time any longer. Another cool app is OmmWriter, which also has an iPad and Mac version. Not sure about the syncing though... last time I checked it didn't have iCloud support. I would be VERY surprised though if cloud support is not coming in the next months.

    Also, the iPad makes a great blog reader to stay current. I am spending so much time behind the screen, that before the iPad I was never motivated to read blogs. I am using Pulp, which presents the blogs you follow in a newspaper format. It also has a cloud synced Mac app, and DOES NOT work over google (which I preferred).

    Mindmapping is great for academic work, and there are a couple of apps out there for it. I like MindNode, because of its simplistic appeal and (you might have guessed it) because of the ability to sync with the Mac version of MindNode. I also read on the developers blog that iCloud support is coming.

    Oh, and for conferences and classroom presentations, I am using pClock, a countdown timer a la TED that you can use to time your presentations. I saw the biggest time-ignorers of my faculty suddenly ending their presentation on time because of this countdown timer.

    Yeah, there is a lot, I really encourage everybody in academia to get familiar with the iPad. And IF the next gen iPad will be treated with a better screen, then it is the perfect device for academia. Again, and I don't want to self-promote here too much, but read my blog for more info if you like.
  9. Rusty33, Jan 21, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012

    Rusty33 macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2011
    I would highly recommend the papers2 (mac) and papers(ios) combo....the program is elegant, and syncs my entire research library (including references, pdfs, annotations, notes etc) to my the iPad seamlessly. Papers2 is being constantly updated, and is an absolute treat to use. I recently switched over from zotero (and endnote before that), and will never look back!
  10. metanoiac, Jan 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012

    metanoiac macrumors member

    Jan 21, 2012
    I agree that papers 2 for iPad has a better hilighting workflow, but disagree about the constant updates. It took them forever to sort out a very annoying color changing bug, and the launch of Papers 2 for Mac was a disaster. The highlighting did not appear until 2.1, and when I tested it it required me to do a right click in order to highlight - so clunky. Is that still the same procedure, or did they change the interface?

    I also don't agree with how notes are handled in papers. The little pins are not informative or user friendly at all. Sente nicely displays your comments in a small box when you tab on them in the document, and it also lists all your comments and quotes in an overview of the paper (without any color codes though).

    Still, there is no clear winner right now, because the feel of Sente for iPad needs an update. While they have an incredibly smooth workflow on the Mac, highlighting on the iPad is a pain, especially when you are using different colors often.

    Only updates will tell us who comes out ahead of this race.
  11. kwerner2 macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2010
    Rochester, NY
    I have been using iAnnotate now for about a month and find it to be fantastic! I have to read a lot of papers for my lab, thesis, seminar classes, etc. and I find it really easy to manage them all. At first I thought highlighting was kind of annoying with my finger, but I recently picked up a Kensington stylus and it's as though I'm actually using a highlighter (although a lot neater lol).

    I also think having the ability to type notes directly into the margins of the PDF is helpful. Having the sticky notes for longer notes is great, but when in class it's easier to just take a quick glance if necessary rather than fumbling through the stickies to find the right one.
  12. Splen macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2010
    I am currently studying as a mature student for a BA and can honestly say that the iPad is the most worthwhile purchase I have made in that time! I read a lot of journal articles and have found that goodreader, with it's ability to annotate and file PDFs and sync with Dropbox is indespensible for me. I also use simplenote for taking lecture notes in my iPad, safe in the knowledge that I will have a backed up, searchable set of notes synced to my mac when I get home!

    The only thing I can't do on my iPad is write essays, due to pages not having the ability to insert comments or footnotes. Other than that I've really got no complaints!
  13. Rusty33 macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2011
    You know what? After reading your post, I reinstalled Sente on my mac and was pleasantly surprised! Looks like I need to eat my hat...

    I must admit that its interface/menus/options are quite confronting (compared to papers), but once you get a handle on it (e.g. discovering the hidden commands/menus), it does appear to have a lot more functionality. From what I can tell, the notes/highlighting workflow seems to be a lot more polished in Sente than papers!
  14. Cdragon macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2012
    Ipad3 apps for Grad students

    Hi all,
    Just got the new Ipad and am also looking for apps that would be useful.
    I need to be able to work on my .Docx files as well as my excel spreadsheets and create presentations from time to time.. the Iwork vs other cheaper apps?

    Also is there an app to help me sort and organize my mounds of research?

    I am grammatically and punctuationly challenged so anything that can help sort this out for me would be great.

    Thanks so much for the feedback.
  15. shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010
    sigh i hate it when old threads are opened... it messes with my brain too much... then i look at the date and feel stupid.
  16. klo-mac macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2011
    I will start my PhD in September, but I won't take my iPad with me, but will take my MacBook Pro only.

    The reason is because I can't do anything with iPad, but I can do with MBP 13 which will be always on my bag.

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