Academic Resources – Books and Tools for Research Success

Books, Websites, and Other Information

A Little of Everything

  • A Ph.D. is Not Enough!: A guide to survival in science by Peter J. Feibelman
  • 57 Ways to Screw Up in Grad School: Perverse Professional Lessons for Graduate Students by Kevin D. Haggerty and Aaron Doyle


  • How to Write a Lot by Paul J. Silva
  • The Craft of Scientific Writing by Michael Alley
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White
  • Celia Elliott (Illinois Physics department) has a great website on writing clearly and concisely in science.


Scientific Presentations

Effective Habits for Research

  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley
  • How to Search the Web Effectively – Tips and advanced functionality for using Google and other search engines

COURSES and Workshops

Coming Soon!

Reference Managers

All researchers accumulate a library of hundreds to thousands of sources as they delve deeper into their research area. Nearly everything we write will cite from this library. Having a citation manager to organize all of these sources and efficiently generate auto-formatted citations is highly recommended for every researcher. While some advisers are old-fashioned and have never heard of any of these, others will have a standard option for their lab group. We present a few options below for those looking for citation managers.

  • Mendeley—probably the industry standard for reference and citation management. It has full integration with Microsoft Word and can store all the articles you need, which you can easily access at any time. It’s a game-changer for people who insert citations manually. There are desktop and online versions, a Chrome extension that allows you to add articles to your library quickly when they’re open, and a Microsoft Word plugin that allows you to add citations as you write. See a five-minute demo here.
  • SciWheel—a web-based reference managing system without a desktop application. There is a Microsoft Word plug-in that allows you to add citations while you write. The benefit of SciWheel is that you can share a large library of articles between all lab group members because PDFs for articles are stored in the cloud. This is one of few free (for UF students) reference managers that easily allows entire groups to share literature.
  • Zotero—an open-source option with a rather unique organization style. Zotero has a desktop application, Chrome plug-in, and MS full integration with Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs. Zotero has a free plan with up to 300MB of storage. To increase storage, Zotero offers different storage plans for an additional monthly fee.

Writing Tools

Every researcher writes. Here we list some tools to help with the writing process.

  • Microsoft Word—A quintessential word processor all UF students receive for free  and it is integrated with many, many tools, which makes it a particularly flexible option for writing. Citation managers, for example, are almost all integrated with Word (and for good reason). Word will not give you the same control as LaTeX will with math or figures, but it’s still incredibly useful.
  • LaTeX—A typesetting and markup language that offers you complete control over the layout of your documents. LaTeX is excellent for writing equations in a nice typeset and is extremely flexible, though it does have a learning curve and lacks some of the easier collaboration tools that MS Word comes with. There are a few good tools for LaTeX users with which not all will be familiar:
    • Share LaTex – This makes your life easier if you’re going the LaTeX route. It’s a nice place to store LaTeX documents and it’s a convenient way to compile them; just download the PDF file once you’re done making it.
    • Overleaf – Overleaf and ShareLaTeX have combined forces to improve LaTeX-based collaboration for writing projects. This functions like Google Drive or OneDrive, allowing your research group to collaborate real-time on documents.
    • BibTex – BibTeX is the “citation manager for LaTeX”. It’s not too difficult to use, but it’s a staple for anyone using LaTeX regularly. All citation managers have options for exporting your libraries as BibTeX files, which can be imported seamlessly into LaTeX.
  • Screenriver—a program dedicated to writers. It’s not free, which is its biggest drawback, but it has lots of options that you can tailor to your writing and editing style.
  • Write.surge—a rather extreme app that forces you to continue writing continuously. If you stop writing for long enough, all of the text you’ve written will disappear. The benefit is that you’re forced to get on the page, but the drawback is that you could lose some of your work.
  • Grammarly—Maybe another grammar-checking app is gratuitous given that most word processors (Word, Chrome/Google Docs, ShareLaTeX, etc.) include a spell-check option already. Grammarly, however, goes one step further, which is what makes it particularly useful. It has Word, Outlook, and Chrome plugins, so it will work for anything you write in both, including emails.

Task Lists and Organizers

Do you have tasks? Do you write them down? Does your adviser ask you to do things that you forget? Task lists, when used properly, will help you to organize all of the stuff you have to handle at any given time. I find that advisers who delegate tasks often will remember delegating a task but forget the task itself or will remind you when you’ve forgotten that you haven’t done it—and neither is good. There are many task management systems out there, but I’ve listed a few popular ones below. Most are extremely similar, so I’ve added links to all and added descriptions to only a few. Many of the platforms allow you to share and delegate tasks, which is a helpful feature if you are put in a leadership or mentoring position, or if you have a technologically-minded adviser who’s open to the idea of delegating tasks using one of these apps.

  • Microsoft To-Do and Wunderlist: Microsoft purchased Wunderlist, a popular task-tracking app, so these are included together. They are extremely similar: simple, but powerful. MSTD just allows you to create projects and tasks within them with due dates. MSTD has fewer features than many of the other options listed below, but its simplicity is one of its draws.
  • Todoist: This is perhaps the most popular and versatile task manager and has a large online community with ideas about organizing projects and tasks. If you’re not sure which of these to use, this is probably a good place to start.
  • Asana, Trello, and WrikeThese three use concept boards to represent projects and cards within these boards to represent tasks. Tasks move between boards to track the overall progress of projects. Each app comes with lots of different integration options.
  • Habitica: Habitica is a “gamified” way to track actions that you would like to incorporate into your life (exercising regularly, getting up at the same time daily, etc.). I think it’s superior to using repeating tasks in many of the other applications listed above (MSTD/Wunderlist, for example) to track habits and daily activities. It also includes a simple to-do list option.
  • Nirvana: This is an application specifically tailored to the Getting Things Done methodology (GTD, described in the book by David Allen above). It’s a more detailed way to organize to-do lists into their separate project folders

Other Resources Provided by UF