researchers/ academics: what are your favourite apps for work?

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by jojoba, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    I'm using PDF Expert and iAnnotate extensively together with different note taking apps and iThoughtsHD, and I'm at the early stages of trying out Papers.

    Are there other apps that are particularly good for academic work?
  2. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    I like mendeley, a free alternative to papers
  3. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Oh, I checked out the PC version of that a couple of years ago, but ended up reverting to EndNote. What do you like about it specifically?
  4. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    iAnnotate, PDF Expert, and GoodReader

    Elements (syncs well with Scrivener in OSX), Evernote, Pages (now it has footnotes!), VoodooPad (personal wiki), NoteTaker HD (handwriting)

    Here is a thread I started a while ago. I have changed many aspects of my workflow, but some of it might still be useful:
  5. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Wow, that link was great - thanks! :)

    What is/ what do you do with Elements (I haven't heard of it or Scrivener before...)?

    Also, does GoodReader offer anything that iAnnotate or PDF Expert don't? I have all three apps, but haven't really used GoodReader yet.
  6. gibbz macrumors 68030

    May 31, 2007
    I use Papers on my iPad/iPhone and Mac for journal articles.

    I use Scrivener on my Mac for writing. It is essentially the ultimate research/writing environment. I can't recommend that enough. I have used it for several papers. I particularly like that it can export your text as LaTeX.

    I use SimpleNote on my iPhone/iPad, which syncs with Scrivener - so if I ever have an idea while out, I can easily add it to my Scrivener project.

    I have also used Penultimate on iPad for note taking.
  7. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Oh, Scrivener looks really interesting. While I'm waiting for my MBA to arrive, I downloaded a Windows trial version to my work pc. It looks a bit intimidating, does it take a long time to learn to use it?

    Also, how do you sync SimpleNote with Scrivener? I downloaded the SimpleNote app but couldn't find the sync feature.
  8. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    glad i could help.

    1. scrivener is brilliant. it has a cluttered and unintuitive interface, in my opinion, but a few hours with it and you will be on your way. for me, i like that i can easily move bits and pieces of my project around. it replicates the way research used to be done with notecards rather than the tyranny of linearity and word processing.

    elements is far superior to simplenote, in my opinion, but the basic concept is the same. your stuff gets saved, scrivener accesses it (you have to sync from scrivener, not from simplenote). play around with it and you will see. it's seamless and easier than it sounds. you need something like elements or simplenote, because there is not a scrivener app for ipad (yet).

    2. goodreader seems to have a few odds and ends that are different. i use sugarsync for a backup service (i will be moving to dropbox in a few months) and it syncs with that.

    3. i strongly recommend anything other than penultimate. it renders your handwriting poorly (blurry), has few options, and lacks a zoom feature. i prefer note taker hd, despite the messy user interface, but there are many others with a zoom feature.
  9. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Great, thanks so much! I'm going to play around with Scrivener over Christmas, I think, when I have a bit more time.

    Just one more question: I can't find anything called elements in the app store on my iPad - does it go by another name? I find simplenote annoying. I generally use 7Notes HD and Notability to take notes and really like both, but I guess they don't sync with Scrivener.
  10. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    you are welcome.

    put "elements dropbox" into the search field and it should appear. here is their site:
  11. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
  12. JMKeynes macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2009
    Videos Help

    Scrivener is indeed both powerful and intimidating. I found the screencasts very helpful to get started:

    I've just finished using it for an article. This was my first article completely done in Scrivener. The experience was great--didn't crash once (unlike Word), let me reorganize and edit things, kept everything together, &c. (And I'm glad to report that it's forthcoming in the top journal in my field!) :)

    Also, I agree that the best thing is the ability to move smaller parts around in your piece.
  13. matt90036 macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2010
    Notablity - great all around text editor. it can also convert rtf to PDF, insert images, back up to drop box, etc.
    ReaddleDocs - good for saving webpages to PDF and keeping all PDFS organized
    DocuSign - let's you sign PDFs, much faster than PDF expert
    iAnnotate or PDF Expert - I actually use both now, given that PDF Expert is much more user friendly when using Dropbox, allows you to insert images.
  14. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    :cool: congrats on your submission :) I've decided to invest in this programme now!

    Great, these are apps I'm using as well. I also greatly prefer PDF Expert to iAnnotate. Everyone keeps saying iAnnotate has a richer functionality, though. Do you know what iAnnotate can do that PDF Expert can't (apart from the global search function)?
  15. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    For those of you who are using Scrivener: how do you share work in progress with colleagues who don't use that application?
  16. matt90036 macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2010
    can you please tell me what other apps you use?

    I only used iAnnotate for simple annotation, insertion of text and doing millions of searches. So take this comparison with a grain of salt.
    I think iAnnotate is more like a scalpel and PDF expert is a knife. For example iAnnotate got over 200 different stamps while PDF expert has only 20 or so. For most people PDF expert will suffice but selected few might find iAnnotate more useful. PDF expert however has much better UI and offers other nice features besides annotation such as adding or deleting pages, adding full size images into a PDF (iAnnotate let's you create a stamp out of image but it won't let you insert full size). iAnnotate however got a better search UI since it slides in from the side and doesn't cover the PDF while PDF expert got a pop out search box. There are UI issues that I have with both. The biggest problem I have with PDF expert is that it doesn't allow smooth scrolling between pages. I have emailed the developers about it and hopefully it will get fixed. So to sum it up, I think iAnnotate will benefit people who have specialized needs in annotation and only annotation while PDF expert is more like a PDF editor.
  17. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Thanks so much for that, that's very useful. Yes, the main reason why I now predominantly use PDF Expert are intuitive and easy to use interface, and that it seems to sync much faster/ easier with DropBox.

    At the moment, my main usage looks like this:

    PDF Expert is my main tool for annotating pdfs, although I still use iAnnotate from time to time because I want to keep exploring it until I understand its full potential.

    I use 7notesHD and Notability as my main note taking apps (and often export from there to Evernote), especially when I do handwritten notes or draw little models or diagrams. There are also some notes that I put directly into Evernote. It's a bit random what goes where, as I'm kind of in the process of testing out different apps with a view to establishing a more fixed system.

    For audio notes, I presently use Evernote for smaller, note-to-self kind of messages, and Voice Memos if I want to record a lecture or a meeting/ longer conversation. I recently downloaded PaperPortNotes and will try to use this next time I audio record and take notes at the same time. This app has a function where a new audiofiles inserts itself on each page, so that you don't have to scroll through pages/ audio to sync - the text and the audio come together on each page.

    I use iThoughtsHD for creating mind maps, and at current I've got that connected up to Xmind which works on pc and mac, and you can also access the maps on the web.

    I've recently downloaded Papers but haven't had time to explore it, which I will do over Christmas. I haven't figured out yet how that usage would complement my other apps, but it seems to 'talk to' various scholarly search engines. I've also downloaded the Taylor and Francis Online app.

    Otherwise I use Pages, Numbers and Keynotes when dealing with docs I've produced on my work pc.

    Finally, I've downloaded an app called pdf-notes. I don't think it does anything that PDF Expert doesn't do for me, but I just got curious and decided to look at their free version.

    I'm not quite sure how to work with references on my iPad, but I'm hoping Pages will take care of that. I've downloaded a couple of free reference apps (BibReader and Mendeley), but at work EndNote is the officially supported program that comes with IT support, so I'm reluctant to use something that can't 'talk' to EndNote because I'd like to avoid too many parallel systems.
  18. matt90036 macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2010
    looks like you are more of a note taker than I am. you convinced me to try out evernote, it's pretty good. I will utilize it for long term notes/planning. For short and quick notes I use microsoft onenote. it's a barebones version of Evernote. I like using it for very short notes/reminders. the nice thing about evernote that once you open the app it takes you to the last note you created without having have to go through menus, etc. kind of like apple default notepad application but one that can be used on several platforms.
  19. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Yes, one of the main reasons why I like Endnote is the cross platform capacity. I had a quick look at OneNote recently but although I really like its pc layout, it generally seems to have less of the functionality I like, such as audio notes.
  20. matt90036 macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2010
    yeah onenote is crap compared to Evernote, MS is really going down hill with their software products for other platforms. hopefully they will develop it into something like Evernote.
  21. snowydog macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2011
    Can I ask what journal?
  22. dove macrumors member

    Dec 25, 2009
    PDF Expert. Slick and powerful.

    GoodNotes. Switched away from Note Taker HD, which became really complicated and is even more ugly. I like GoodNotes better in every respect except that it currently doesn't have PDF export.

    Evernote. OneNote was just released for iPad, though, and might be a good alternative.

    Textile for occasional for LaTeX editing. (I very much like the idea behind TeX Touch but the implementation is lacking oh so much.)

    iA Writer for doing not so technical writing. I love writing in this app while I pace around the room!

    Teleprompt+ for doing presentations. I prepare slides and a 'speech' that I read off my iPad.
  23. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    I'm confused about this LaTex stuff. What is it exactly, and how is it different from Word? :confused:
  24. dove macrumors member

    Dec 25, 2009
    LaTeX a bit like HTML or BBCode in that you will mix text and code that changes how your text is displayed. Of course LaTeX is way more powerful. (Actually, HTML+CSS+JS+MathJax comes close but is lacking when it comes to paged output and justified paragraphs.)

    There are a number of reasons why people prefer LaTeX over word. Some geeks, I think, just don't like 'struggling' with WYIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editors. They might feel they have more control over the output if they're writing code. The most cited reason, however, would be that it's too difficult to enter mathematics in word processors. This is relatively easy in LaTeX. A third reason is that it's just easier to get professional looking output using LaTeX. The way it decides where to hyphenate, for instance, is still superior to programs like Word (I've come to reckon the Word team does not consider this is an important feature).

    LaTeX is the standard (source) document format in fields like mathematics, physics, computer science, and even parts of philosophy.

    Although LaTeX is extremely powerful and is the only thing I use, I can't really recommend it unless you're sure you need it. Owing mostly to its old age it is a horrendously complicated system. Sure, there are nice abstractions for most things, but they're leaky abstractions, and the whole setup underneath is a mess despite impressive modernization efforts.

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