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Looking for PIM / Thesis Writing Software for the PC

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Posted by Peter
Oct 11, 2009 at 06:44 PM


Hi Lucas,

Thank you for all the tips! It seems to me like you have a developed a great research workflow integrated with some cool apps. Do you mind summarizing it here for us (well at least for me) i.e. an overview of your entire process from data collection to analysis and writing and how the software fits in? You’ve already mentioned a few applications that you like (Zotero, PDF-XChange Viewer) but I am curious to get an overview of how you fit all the pieces altogether. ;)

If this is too much trouble then no worries. I just thought I’d ask. I’ll try to sketch mine to give you an idea of what I mean.

Literature search:
I use some of the more traditional tools like Web of Science but have come to love Google Scholar. It integrates a bib manager link that can be used to import the source directly into the database (e.g. Endnote or BibTex).

Qualitative data analysis:
Up to now I’ve used ATLAS.ti. It’s a comprehensive program for coding a range of media including txt, doc, pdf, audio and video. However, I’m finding it slow when it comes to searching pdfs. Still, it’s one of the few programs that allows annotation and searching of pdf files as well as text docs like interview transcripts. In the future I might use it to replace Endnote but currently it does not have a bibliographic mode. I’m also looking forward to try out PDF-XChange Viewer. :)

Citation management:
I’ve been using Endnote for many years. I have a library of over 1000 pdfs. On nice feature its ability to ‘package’ the entire database and move or back it up to a different computer. One problem however is that it doesn’t allow full-text searches of the pdf content. For this reason I’ve been cutting and pasting the abstract into the abstract field to permits searching for relevant keywords. I can also add my reading notes to the same post. It easily imports the reference into Word as you write and creates a fully formatted bibliography at the end of the paper. Some interesting bibliographic alternatives are Mendeley and Zotero.

Brainstorming and mind-mapping:
Freemind is a great like open source program that I love.

Drafting and writing
Word has been my main tool. I make us of the outline function especially for long reports. However, like many out there I have the problem of creating new drafts every week or so and end up with loads of file versions scattered across multiple folders. Scrivener seems like a solution to this problem. Hence my interest in this forum!