Writing is not as easy as it seems. Anyone who has struggled with assignments at school or university will nod in agreement. Even those who have an inherent gift for written expression often find themselves stuck with a bad case of writer’s block. The task becomes all the more complex when it involves serious research. Mastering the art of academic research and writing can take years. But why wait that long if you can find the right tools to support your learning?
If you find yourself at sea trying to figure out how best to manage your notes and organise them or how to keep track of all those sources and references, look no further. If you are confused about how to perfect your writing, this article will reveal some helpful tricks to use. You no longer have any need to wait until your writer’s block has cleared up. There is a multitude of free digital tools you can use to make your work easier and actually stimulate your creativity.
Let’s look at five digital tools to improve your academic writing:
Note-taking apps: Ideas for research may strike out of nowhere. The best ideas may suddenly appear when you’re on the metro or even when out grocery shopping. Wherever you may go, your phone is never far behind. So, a great way to retain these sudden epiphanies is to immediately put them down using smartphone apps. One of the best ones out there is Evernote, a note-taking app packed to the brim with useful features. You can create notes, organise and sort them under different tags, format text, affix images, add hyperlinks and even make audio recordings of seminars or class lectures. Best of all, it is free and offers a desktop version that is immediately synchronised with your phone.
Text editors: Each of us has different needs when it comes to text editors. Some prefer a completely clean, no-fuss interface where all you get is a blank page and a cursor blinking in anticipation. Others prefer feature rich editors with multiple options for highlighting, font variations, annotating, formatting, hyperlinking, built-in image editing and the ever useful spellcheck. Whatever your requirements, you can be sure there is an app out there that’s perfect for you. If you belong to the no-fuss school of thought, try using the PlainText app. Paperhelper is another app that’s useful. It splits your screen so that you can continue to refer to your digital notes while writing.
Google Scholar: Whatever specific topic you are writing on, you can be assured that someone somewhere has already written a book, dissertation, or journal article on a related subject. There is a wealth of scholarly research out there for you to tap into, particularly in the domain of sciences and medicine. The problem is that you may not even know that a useful source exists. The simple solution is Google Scholar. Enter keywords and let this tool reveal to you the vast universe of published research you can mine for your own work. Some works are available to read online. In other cases, you can note down the titles and author names to go look for them in your own university library or through ProQuest. Google Scholar also offers readymade citations in various styles at the click of a button.
Ambient music: We all know how difficult it can be to get into the ‘zone’, that space where creative juices flow freely and muddled thoughts suddenly sort themselves into a lucid stream that translates into some seriously productive writing. Have you noticed that this tends to happen when you are not distracted by noises or visuals or worries? Websites like Coffitivity offer a range of pleasing ambient tracks that you can listen to while working. Sounds of a bustling coffee shop, chirping crickets, or dripping rain can completely transform your mood and help you focus better. Hatnote Listen To Wikipedia is a unique website that generates music out of the constant edits taking place on Wikipedia. Every time a bit of information is added to an article somewhere on Wikipedia, you hear bells and when some information is edited out, you hear a string instrument being plucked. The effect is soothing and calming. Just plug in your earphones and tune out the world. Just you and your writing.
Citation generators and online bibliographies: Few tasks are more tiresome than having to compile bibliographies and references for academic essays. The precise positioning of colons, italics and commas can take up so much time. In fact, it’s even worse when you’ve been careless about noting down sources and can’t remember where you got a certain quote or date from. Now, you can use online citation generators like CiteThisForMe to put together your references for you. Simply feed in the details and watch this nifty tool spit out a readymade, properly formatted footnote or in-text citation in the style of your choice. With books, all you need to do is enter the author’s name or ISBN number, et voila! Alternatively, try using free desktop applications like Mendeley to maintain bibliographies, create citations and even share reading lists with other researchers.
Besides the above, there are services that help you improve your writing skills. For starters, you can hire a private tutor who can teach you the art of essay writing. Of course, a lot depends on you as well. If you seriously want to get better at writing, you will have to give it your best shot. There are custom services such as “write my essay” service provided by writing services. These services show you how you should approach a topic and what you should do differently in your essay.
One of the main advantages of these tools is that you can use them on the go. You need no longer wait to get back to your desktop or laptop to start writing. Hopefully, these pointers and suggestions will help you make the best of your time and energies while writing. You might have produced great research but without the right expression in writing, it may not manage to get the attention it deserves. With the right kind of support, anyone can excel at writing!