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  • Library AND Information Service

Research Process: Useful tools for research

This guide gives a full overview of all the aspects of the research process and where to get assistance.

Useful tools for research


Freedom app:
Freedom is an app and website blocker designed to improve focus and productivity. Use it to block apps on your phone, tablet or PC.

Block distracting apps and websites with 1Focus.
IFTTT (If this, then that)
IFTTT (if this, then that) is the easy, free way to get your apps and devices working together. The internet doesn't always play nice, but we're here to help.


Available on MAC and Android, as well as all web browsers as a plugin, Todoist allows you to manage tasks and projects from where ever you are. 

Organise your thoughts, tasks and projects with Outliner. Create to do lists and track entire projects from anywhere.


Trying to juggle conversations, tasks, and collaboration in different apps creates extra work. Twobird keeps everything in context and under control.


An online tool for creating and sharing mind maps. Coggle works online in your browser, so there is nothing to install.

The IHMC CmapTools software empowers users to construct, navigate, share and criticise knowledge models represented as concept maps.

Combine handwriting, photos and typing in a single note to bring your projects to life. Use a wide range of note-taking and sketching tools to capture every detail. You can even add and annotate PDFs in Notability.

Image result for mindmeister logo

MindMeister is an online mind mapping tool that lets you capture, develop and share ideas visually through for brainstorming, note taking, project planning and tons of other creative tasks.

Evernote Logo


Evernote is an app designed for note taking, organizing, task management, and archiving. The app allows users to create notes, which can be text, drawings, photographs, or saved web content. Notes are stored in notebooks and can be tagged, annotated, edited, searched, given attachments, and exported.


QuickSearch PDF Reader
QuickSearch PDF Reader makes it fast and easy to find text in PDF documents. When you add a document, it is scanned in the background, so when you search, results are instant. As well as searching within a document, you can search across all your documents at once.

Ebscohost Mobile provides seamless accessto the Ebscohost interfaces via mobile devices without the downloading extra applications. An app is available for download if you prefer to work from the application. 

Duck Duck Go
Duck Duck Go is an alternative search engine that does not track your searches. It emphasises privacy and does not filter results according to your search history.

Wolfram Alpha
More than a search engine, Wolfram Alpha is a computational knowledge engine that gives you access to facts and data and calculates answers across a range of topics.

Miscrosoft Academic:
Microsoft Academic is a free public web search engine for academic publications and literature, developed by Microsoft.


WorldCat is a union catalog that itemizes the collections of 15,600 libraries in 107 countries that participate in the OCLC global cooperative. It is operated by OCLC, Inc. The subscribing member libraries collectively maintain WorldCat's database, the world's largest bibliographic database.


Pocket app
Manage your reading with Pocket app. Don't have time to read that article? Want to watch video, but don't have time right away? Add it to Pcoket. Pocket syncs across your devices so you can come back to your content whenever you want.
A news aggregator application and RSS feed reader for various devices and web browsers. Stay up to date with the latest information in your field and keep track of your favourite publications all in one place.
A social bookmarking tool used to save web pages to read later, even when you are off line.
LiquidText moves beyond paper. It captures your reading, notes, highlights, annotations and observations just like paper; but goes further to reveal their connections: to source materials and each other in a way which documents and maps your project in a clear and shareable form.

Write up:

A free English Dictionary and Thesaurus download for use in almost any Windows program, it offers a one click lookup for thousands of definitions and synonyms. 
Google Docs
A free web-based office suite, Google Docs allows you to create, edit and collaborate on documents with others. 

iA Writer
iA writer is a minimalist text editor, that keeps you focused on just writing. It consciously separates form and content, text and formatting. 

Scrivener is a word-processing program and outliner designed for authors. Scrivener provides a management system for documents, notes and metadata.

A high-quality typesetting system; it includes features designed for the production of techinical and scientific documentation.

Grammarly is a free writing assistant that makes sure everything that you write is clear, effective and mistake free. 

Coffitivity creates the ambient sounds of a coffee shop to boost your productivity. Create that relaxing coffee shop experience where ever you are.
Noisli is a background noise and color generator for working and relaxing. Online soothing ambient sounds like White noise, Rain and Coffee Shop.


A free Reference Management and Academic Social Networking Tool that assists with managing your references, showcasing your work and connecting with other researchers worldwide. 
Zotero is free and open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials.

Recite (Beta)

Recite checks that your in text citations match the reference list at the end of your work.

First, Recite checks that the authors and dates in the body of your work match up with the references at the end. Then Recite tells you where it finds errors.

EndNote Logo

EndNote Click (Formerly Kopernio)

Access research papers in one click.

Save time accessing full-text PDFs with the free EndNote Click browser plugin.

Note taking:

Evernote is a cross-platform app designed for note taking, organizing,and archiving. Organise your work and take notes whereever you are. 
Google Keep
A note-taking service that works as easily as Google Docs. Google Keep offers a variety of tools for taking notes, including text, lists, images, and audio.
Don't forget a thing with Braintoss. Send a note, image or voice reminder to your inbox with one click. Capture your To-do's and empty your brain.
Microsoft OneNote is a computer program for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It gathers users' notes, drawings, screen clippings and audio commentaries. Part of the Office 365 student package.
Notion is a note-taking application with markdown support that also integrates tasks, wikis, and databases. The aim is to be an all-in-one workspace for note-taking, project management and task management. 

Otter Voice Notes
Otter Voice notes is the smart note-taking and collaboration app that business people, students, and journalists use to get more value from meetings, calls, video conferences, interviews, lectures, and wherever important conversations happen. Record in real time, search, play edit and share from any device.

The RocketBook Smart Notebook instantly connects your notes, doodles and lists in the cloud with free smart notebook app.



SU Research Support Services are pleased to announce the launch of Stellenbosch University’s Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) service.

REDCap is a secure web platform for building and managing online databases and surveys. REDCap's streamlined process for rapidly creating and designing projects offers a vast array of tools that can be tailored to virtually any data collection strategy.

The web-based e-Survey service (SUNSurveys) is available to support academic staff and postgraduate students using online surveys for their academic research.
SurveyMonkey is an online survey development cloud-based software, providing free customisable surveys
Typeform Typeform
Build beautiful, engaging, and conversational online forms, surveys, quizzes, landing pages, and much more with Typeform.
Google Forms
Create a new survey on your own or with others at the same time. Choose from a variety of beautiful, pre-made themes or create your own

Zoho Survey
An online survey creation tool that provides unlimited free and customizable surveys, which may be launched from various devices

Advanced and easy to use online survey software tool. Their free survey plan provides you with basic survey templates to get you started.

Data Clean-up:

A free, open source, power tool for working with messy data.
Trifacta is a platform for exploring and preparing data for analysis that allows you to discover, wrangle and visualise data quickly. 

Data Analysis:

R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It compiles and runs on a wide variety of UNIX platforms, Windows and MAC. Can be used with R-studio.
Atlas.ti is a powerful workbench for the qualitative analysis of large bodies of textual, graphic, audio and video data. It offers a variety of sophisticated tools for accomplishing the tasks associated with any systematic approach to data. Training sessions are offered by the African Institute of Atlas.ti. 

SPSS​​ Statistics is a software package used for logical batched and non-batched statistical analysis. Available at IT Hub on request.

Statistica is an advanced analytics software package. Available at IT Hub on request. 


Tableau Public
Tableau Public is free software that can allow anyone to connect to a spreadsheet or file and create interactive data visualizations for the web.
Plotly created leading open source tools for composing, editing, and sharing interactive data visualisation on the web.

Simple, clean and engaging HTML5 based JavaScript charts. Chart.js is an easy way to create animated, interactive graphs. 

Smart Draw
SmartDraw is a diagram tool used to make flowcharts, organization charts, mind maps, project charts, and other business visuals. 

PlantUML is an open-source tool allowing users to create UML diagrams  from a plain text language.

Dedoose (Beta) 6.2.0 | Company logo, Pinterest logo, Vodafone logo


Dedoose is a web application for mixed methods research developed by academics from UCLA, with support from the William T. Grant Foundation, and is the successor to EthnoNotes. Dedoose is an alternative to other qualitative data analysis software, explicitly aimed at facilitating rigorous mixed methods research.

Sotware use:

Virtual Box
Oracle VM VirtualBox is a free and open-source hypervisor (virtual machine monitor) for x86 computers. If you need a specific environment for software use, Virtual Box can create it for you on your computer.


Slack app
A collaboration tool that bring teams together in a single workspace. Slack is where work flows. It's where the people you need, the information you share, and the tools you use come together to get things done. 

Trello is a web-based project management application that keeps track of everything. Work collaboratively and get more done.
Writing and publishing with impact. Write, improve and publish your work on a single research platform. SciFlow allows all co-authors to collaborate within one platform - without the e-mail and version chaos. References, figures, equations and tables are immediately available to all co-authors.

Explain Everything:
The interactive whiteboard platform where people share and learn without boundaries. Join from any device and collaborate both visually and audibly


Stellenbosch University Library & Information Service
For more information on Managing your Research Data, please see the Library's Research Data Management page.


Google Drive
Get access to files anywhere through secure cloud storage and file backup for your photos, videos, files and more. Comes with 15GB of free space with your Google account.
A file hosting service to store and back up your files. DropBox basic comes with 2GB of space.
​Back up and access your files using your existing folder structure. SugarSync is a prorietary service, with basic plan of 100GIG. 30 day free trail is available. 
​A file hosting service from Miscrosoft. Students at SUN receive a 5TB OneDrive  for use during their studies. See SUN's IT page for more details.


Theses are deposited on SUNScholar once you complete your degree. SUNScholar can also be used to archive articles, conference papers and other records for long term preservation. 


SUNScholarData is an institutional research data repository which can be used for the registration, archival storage, sharing and dissemination of research data produced or collected in relation to research conducted under the auspices of Stellenbosch University.

SHERPA RoMEO is an online resource that aggregates and analyses publisher open access policies from around the world and provides summaries of self-archiving permissions and conditions of rights given to authors on a journal-by-journal basis.


Haiku Deck
Presentation software and online presentation tool. Create fast beautiful presentations that inspire.
Web based presentation software. Prezi uses motion, zoom and spatial relationships to bring your ideas to life
Google Slides
Create a new presentation and edit with others at the same time.

An audience interaction tool for meetings, events and conferences. It offers interactive Q&A, live polls and insights about your audience.


Posters, Graphics & Infographics:

Canva makes design simple for everyone. Create designs for web or print, blog graphics, presentations, coves, flyers, posters and much more.
A simple web tool that enables anyone to create and share visuals with no design experience. 
Piktochart is a web-based infographic application which allows users without intensive experience as graphic designers to easily create professional-grade infographics using themed templates.
Snappa makes it easy to create any type of online graphic. Create and publish images for social media, blogs etc.


ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators.
The Social Science Research Network is a website devoted to the rapid dissemination of scholarly research in the social sciences and humanities. is a social networking website for academics. The platform can be used to share papers, monitor their impact, and follow the research in a particular field.

A free platform for explaining your research in plain language, and managing how you communicate around it, so you can understand how to increase its impact.

A content sharing community for sharing of presentations and infographics.


Import MS Word documents and format your content automatically to 88000+ journals such as IEEE. More about Typeset

Think Check Submit
Think. Check. Submit. is a campaign to help researchers identify trusted journals for their research. It is a simple checklist that researchers can use to assess the credentials of a journal or publisher.

Where to Publish Library Guide
For more information about where to publish, have a look at the Library's Where to Publish Guide.


For more information on Research Evaluation and measurement, please see the Stellenbosch Library and Information Services' Bibliometrics and Citation Analysis Library Guide.

For more information on improving your impact, please view this section on the current guide.