5 Tools to Organize Your Research in 2017

When I’m researching my desk looks like a tornado of pdfs hit my computer desktop and blew them clear onto my actual desktop. It’s a mess, but I can’t touch anything or else I won’t know where anything is. You know the feeling? It’s whirlwind of citations and highlighted quotes to use later. After all, a messy desk is supposedly the sign of a creative mind, right?

However, there’s also something to be said for minimalism. Who doesn’t want to start the new year out more organized than they were 12 months before? These tools can help keep your desk and your mind free from clutter. Less clutter blocking your way to the keyboard will help keep your stress levels in check, something that isn’t always easy for a researcher editing her 6th draft, but will surely help you focus and be more productive in the time you are given. Not to mention, these tools are pretty much guaranteed to reduce paper-cuts.

Tools to Organize Your Research in 2017

SSRN’s My Briefcase

casecase-2Sometimes we get a little click happy when we’re looking up relevant sources that help support our latest research. It’s easy to click the download button, and then forget that it is in your downloads folder altogether, or else lose the file after opening it. Adding it to your virtual briefcase will make it easy to access the paper again. It makes it easier to share the paper, check citations, and keep yourself from saying “what was that paper again?”


mendeleyWe are big fans of Mendeley at SSRN. Save your documents and references right in your Mendeley Feed. Highlighting and annotating features help you keep track of your own thoughts while you are researching. Plus, they help you create your bibliography as your go.


evernoteNot specifically for research, but when it comes to organizing things, this is a nifty tool. You can save any document and access it anywhere electronically, including on the plane to your next conference! You can also create shortcuts and  notebooks that save all your ideas. Your complex research project will be categorized into nice, easy-to-find folders, and you’ll never lose a critical post-it with all your ideas on it again!


grammerlyI was first attracted to Grammarly for its clever spellcheck function. Once I added it to my desktop, though, I started to really get excited. Not only do they do a great job of checking for grammar and spelling errors, but you can write your paper and host it in Grammarly until you’re ready to share it. This makes your paper very accessible and editable white you are working on it. Unlike other write-here-edit-here tools that feel clunky, this feels natural. With their Premium account Grammary will also keep an eye out for plagiarism and provide a proofreading service.


easybibMaking the citations page is personally one of my least favorite parts of writing. There! I said it. EasyBib makes tracking your sources simple, and you can be sure that they are done correctly and that collaborators get the credit they deserve. EasyBib has a website you can refer to, and an app that will help you build that citations page on the go.

With all these tools, you can ensure that whatever happens to your computer you can always log in to your papers later, no matter where you left off, your resources will still be mostly dry when you inevitably spill your coffee, and even if someone dare tidy up your workstation you’ll know exactly where to find everything.

Which tools do you use to organize your research? Have you tried any of these tools before? Join the conversation on Twitter with #SSRN.