Imagine the productivity of a business that still uses pen and paper for all its record keeping. Imagine how long can an engineer perform without a computer. That’s the wonder of tools and technology: they make our work easier, better, and more organised.

Writing and research are no exceptions. Even though we writers love to get hold of new stationery and vintage notebooks, employing a little bit of technology here and there could make our work so much easier!

Here are my favorite tools for writing and research:

1. LiquidText for reading:

Any writer worth his salt must read. A lot.

Not just read, but read between the lines and converse with the text (inside his head).

LiquidText is built keeping this in mind. It's designed to facilitate distributed cognition and serendipity. You can link various paragraphs together, link documents to single phrases/ideas, and easily switch between various segments while reading.

The philosophy behind the app is to add liquidity to digital reading, and it does that pretty well. You can select a body of text and move it around to restructure the article as per your convenience. You can also use parts of the article and come up with your own mindmap in the notes area. The options are endless and liquid, indeed.

2. Mendeley for Working Bibliography:

Mindless reading won't do it, unless you keep track of what you're reading.

Mendeley makes your life easy by letting you search articles, recommending similar articles, sort those articles into various folders, and cite them when you incorporate them later into your articles. It also lets you annotate the PDFs of the articles you are reading, and make short notes.

3. Xmind for mind mapping:

I can't overstate the significance of mind mapping during conceptualisation of your project.

If you're like me and mindmap every single detail, @xmind is 'the' app! Be it your thesis planning or shopping list, Xmind has everything covered! As someone who mindmaps even his diet and training schedule, Xmind is the go-to app for day-to-day mind mapping.

4. Obsidian for Zettelkasten Note Taking:

Too much content? Information overload? Overwhelmed with ideas?

Here comes Obsidian to your rescue, by acting as a second brain! Make bite-sized index cards, interlink them, arrange them using tags, and half your work is done. If you have heard about the index card note-taking system, or even already use it, consider switching to Obsidian for all your note-taking gigs: in addition to the flexibility of index cards, it introduces the digital pros like tagging and hyperlinking.

5. Scapple for extensive mindmaps:

I often branch out much of my notes and need to visualise all of them together to get an idea as to where I stand.

Scapple doesn't have much restrictions as to linking and volume, and it lets me do exactly that! Say hello to long notes, again! It lets you start writing a note anywhere on the canvas, make it as long as you want, and connect it to other existing notes.

The philosophy behind mind mapping is that we, humans, understand better when we look at the whole forest instead of individual trees. Scapple goes a long way translating that philosophy into reality.

6. Atlas.ti for Systematic Content Analysis:

Ever wondered if you could quantify the intensity of the ideas a book/article is talking about?

ATLAS.ti lets you not only quantify them, but also find the co-occurence, co-dependence, and other relationships between those ideas! You can simply code (just another word for ‘tag’) the ideas you come across while reading an article, and Atlas.ti will automatically create beautiful sankey diagrams for you depicting interrelationships between those various ideas.

Also, it provides a host of other features like WordCloud which can make your content analysis much more organised.

7. Scrivener for writing:

Sure, MS Word is a decent app, but for shorter write-ups only.

Longer write-ups require you to approach them segment-wise, and Scrivener lets you do that. Instead of worrying where to start with a blinking cursor on a blank MS Word document, Scrivener lets you start with a draft skeleton and approach the segment you like first.

Lastly, every technology embodies within it a philosophy: LiquidText believes in distributed cognition, and mind maps draw validity from interconnections in information. And philosophy, by its very nature, applies differently to each person. So, what works for me may not necessarily work for you, and vice versa.

But we’ll never know until we try, isn’t it? Let me know your thoughts on the tools and technology you use.