Words

These programs are useful in research of all types - gathering, storing, sorting, selecting, organizing, generating data, hypotheses, concepts.

Name Comments
Axon2007

What it Does: Organize and process ideas in multiple ways.
Runs on: PC only
Price: $135
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: The extraordinary versatility of the program
Worst Feature: The unfamiliar (but logical) and sometimes awkward interface
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: "The Axon Idea Processor provides a specially designed environment that supports and empowers the thinking processes. Objects and Links form the basic entities for idea processing. These entities are displayed in a multi-level, 3D workspace." It's true.
Words note: Can export visual ideas to text readily and also analyze.
Citation

What it Does: Bibliography database with note taking
Runs on: PC only
Price: $99
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Integrated note taking
Worst Feature: Not licensed at Drexel
Learning Time: Hours ---
My use: Test Only --- Confidence in Evaluation: Poor
Comment: I've only looked briefly at this product, but it seems good enough to include as an alternative to Endnote because of its integrated note taking capabilities.
CmapTools

What it Does: Concept relationships - Useful in group situation
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Public server allowing group projects.
Worst Feature: Initially difficult to see how powerful it is.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I have used it quite successfully in several courses. It was particularly helpful in promoting class interaction.
Words note: Can attach documents and notes
Endnote

What it Does: Bibliographic database with many output formats
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Integration with Word
Worst Feature: Cannot take multiple notes on a single source.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: If you have to write a big document this is an invaluable bibliography tool.
It does not have built-in note-taking capabilities as does "Citation" (http://www.citationonline.net/).
See also the brand-new (10/2006) Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/)
Words note: Can put abstracts etc. in it - but not multiple notes
Filemaker Pro

What it Does: Database tool (relational) with exceptionally straightforward interface
Runs on: PC, Mac
Price: $250
Best Feature: Allows fairly easy keeping of detailed grading and attendance records and personalized Emails.
Worst Feature: You'll have to invest several days of time to get comfortable enough to use it (or any database) easily.
Learning Time: Days --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: You want to pay for Filemaker if you do a lot of database work and want a really good user interface.
Any time you get over about 100 things that need to be remembered, sorted, searched - up to that point Excel may be easier. If printed output appearance is critical FileMaker is excellent.
- Access (in MSOffice) is licensed, but tougher to use. Base in Openoffice is an Access clone, and currently very flaky. MySQL is free and even tougher for the non-techie.
Words note: Excellent for journal/log
Review & Comments about Filemaker Pro in Academic Tools Blog
MS Word

What it Does: The standard word processor
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Outlines for those who love them.
Styles for those who love them.
Worst Feature: Complexity beyond the simple.
Immediately Useful: Yes --- Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: For those writing a lot it is very much worth exploring the bells and whistles - they can make a very big difference.
Onfolio

What it Does: Web clip, page and note taking
Runs on: PC only
Free
Best Feature: Good interface
Worst Feature: MS is limiting it to IE and removing features (academic) that were useful.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Medium
Comment: If you use Internet Explorer it's a very good, free tool to collect and report web-based information.
Words note: Particulary helpful when getting started in new area
Simple Concordance

What it Does: Create document concordances - text analysis
Runs on: PC, Mac
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Amazing concordance
Worst Feature: Requires text files - must save Word file as text first.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: One of the gems. Months of work can be performed (better) in minutes. Obviously valuable only for those who need concordances.
To save the analyses you will probably use copy and paste.
Zotero

What it Does: Online bibliography and notetaking - still very young
Runs on: Web
Free
Best Feature: Click to record citation information
Worst Feature: Doesn't seem to export yet.
Immediately Useful: Yes --- Learning Time: Half Hour --- Export/Import: Poor
My use: Test Only --- Confidence in Evaluation: Medium
Comment: 10/2006 Still at very early development stage. Requires FireFox 2.0 - which is currently only a Release Candidate.

 

 

Update: 2006-11-26