Throughout my college and graduate career I have developed a system which works wonderfully for research and school work. Saving time and especially mouse clicks is very important to me, clicking around to find something easily leads to Facebook or other distractions. The following programs are integral to my streamlined system. I encourage you to check them out for yourself.
Dropbox – This great tool will sync folders of your choice with your home and work computers. Furthermore it provides a great peace of mind to know all your documents have backups in the cloud. It does this silently in the background, providing you with no distractions from your work.
Zotero – My alternative to Endnote and other reference managers. This application feels up with the times while Endnote looks like it is stuck in the 90s. Zotero is plenty powerful as well, tagging and cataloging features are indispensable – it even catalogs the text from the pdf articles you download making them fully searchable! Make sure you check out the “Magic Wand” button, allowing you to grab article metadata with it’s DOI. Also of note, saving articles from the web to your library is done in a single click!
Adobe Acrobat – A great pdf reader. The interface on Acrobat Pro is great for reading articles and marking them up with comments and notes. Read with the comment dialogue open; use green underline for ideas and conclusions you like, yellow hi-light for questions and re-reads, and the red strike-through for things you disagree with. You can double click on your markup to add a comment to it. Great for preparing for journal clubs! Best of all, changes you make are indexed by zotero for searching.
KeePass – With acedimic institutions comes many passwords to remember – not to mention every journal you publish in. Using KeePass keeps passwords from taking up time in your day and space in your memory. Version 1 or 2 both work wonderfully – though they can be a challenge to set up.