By Curriki Guest Blogger Antonio Tooley
The definition of research is the systematic analysis of existing materials and sources to check on facts and to come up with something new. A research paper is therefore a collection of other people’s work summarized and analyzed to produce a new angle or take on a particular topic. Another way of looking at it is taking the ideas of several people and coming up with your own.
It is a simple enough concept, but it can seem intimidating for high-school students. With so much information available, doing the research itself is easy, but finding a good topic, not so much. In addition, students have to organize the material, write the paper while citing their sources properly, and ensure they do not plagiarize anything.
Overall, writing a research paper can be an overwhelming prospect. Quite a few tools are available to ease the burden, but picking the right ones can add to it.
Here is a review of the top 9 research tools for high-school students that will simplify the research paper writing process.
- Mindmup – You can probably come up with several ideas and sources when given a general topic. This online tool allows you to create a map of those ideas and sources, or a “mind map” so that you can organize everything. It is user-friendly, free, and you do not have to register or download anything. If you are doing a group project, you can easily share it with others by giving them the link, and they can freely add in their own ideas. It is an easy way to help you see what you are thinking about.
- Cold Turkey – It is easy to get distracted when you are online, so this tool comes in handy when you absolutely have to get the work done. It is an online app, and it blocks websites and apps at certain times of the day (when you should be working on your research paper!). It works on all browsers, so you will not be able to cheat by using different browsers. If you have a problem with toeing the line, this app will be your drill sergeant.
- Mendeley – This works across all iOS and Android platforms, so you can organize, read, annotate, and share your research documents anywhere you are. It is easy to search for anything you need in your library, and you can invite others to view it as well. You can even generate citations.
- Paperity – Online research is easy, but finding materials that are free to download is a little harder. Thanks to this online tool, you can easily find open access journals and papers. It is definitely a useful tool for researchers on a budget.
- Zotero – Another tool you can use to organize and share your research materials – this is especially handy if you use Firefox. It works with Mac, PC and Linux, and integrates well with JSTOR. It also synchronizes with Mendeley, so you have your dynamic duo. There are still a few bugs when using Chrome or Safari, and it does not integrate well with other online libraries.
- Wunderlist – Getting yourself (and not just your research) organized is essential for research paper writing, This free app lets you create a to-do list so that you do not forget anything you need to do. It helps you plan projects, assign tasks, and organizes your notes. It has a simple but attractive user interface, and while it works with Android and iOS devices, it works particularly well with Apple Watch. This is especially useful when you are on the go and have to keep an eye on your time management. However, if you already use EverNote or OneNote which have intuitive task managers, Wunderlist may not offer anything unique.
- Plagtracker – Plagiarism is a real problem for many researchers, and sometimes you can plagiarize without meaning to. Plagtracker is a web-based tool that scans online content to make sure your paper is in the clear. If you are not, it will tell you where you went wrong. It is a free and online tool, so you simply copy-paste your text or upload your paper up to 5,000 words, and it will check it for you. For high-school papers, it works well enough.
- KnightCite – In-text citation and your reference page is a major requirement in research papers. KnightCite, unfortunately, does not offer in-text citation. However, it handles non-traditional sources, such as multimedia and electronic sources, better than other reference management tools. It should be noted that the accuracy of the citation is not guaranteed. You should still check each reference against your citation reference, just to be on the safe side.
- EditMinion – No research tool list is complete without one that proofreads and edits the text. This online tool looks a bit funky, but it does a good job of keeping your writing style in check. It analyzes weak phrasing, overused words, and common grammatical mistakes. It is simple and quick, both good things if you are a high-school student.
Most of these online tools can simplify your research paper project, but their utility depends on your needs. Choose two or three you think you really need, because you’ll have to take the time to become familiar with their various features. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that research papers are not that big a deal. As long as you narrow your focus, do your research, and give yourself plenty of time, it should all work out.
Antonio Tooley is a hopeless optimist who enjoys basking in the world’s brightest colors. He loves biking to distant places and occasionally he gets lost. When not doing that he’s writing for EduGeeksClub. He will be happy to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.