Best Software for Academic Research and Thesis

Searching for the best software and better productive workflow is the key to better research and thesis. I find working on PC to be better because: you can type faster than you can write, you don’t need to interpret your handwriting and you can find what you’re looking for in seconds. The biggest problem and downside of it is the overflow of information. There are thousands of resources that can meet your needs. So, it’s crucial to know what are the best tools for you.

Best Software for Academic Research and Thesis

Here is an extensive list of software for academic research and thesis that I use and recommend.

  1. Scrivener

Scrivener a powerful writing app that can be used for all kinds of documents. It is extensively used by professional novelists, screenwriters, students, academics, and more. Scrivener is very powerful compared to MS Word or other word processing software. 

 If you’re going to buy a single app let it be this one. Its pure gold for academic writing. It has a learning curve, but once you get a hang of it you’ll never go back to other word processing tools. You can try it for free 30 days.

 Pricing: Paid

Platforms: macOS; Windows; iOS; Linux

Free alternatives: Atomic Scribbler or Quoll Writer

  1. Zotero

Zotero is a great software for bibliographic management.  It helps you manage your large reference library and is a must-use tool for thesis and research. There is a learning curve, but if you dedicate a weekend to learning it, it will make your life very easy. 

My favorite features are ease of switching citation styles, ability to tag citations with customizable tags, multiple collections (like having different file sets for different projects, but the tag system enables you to locate something you know exists but forgot which project it was with), and that the citation, notes, and annotated pdf copies are all together.

 Zotero is open-source software and provides wonderful features for free. The only downside is that it doesn’t have a polished design and you have to get used to the clunky UI.

 Pricing: Free, Open Source

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux

  1. Evernote

Evernote is a digital notebook that stores all your notes, ideas, and scribbles into the cloud, and allows you to access them from any device.

I can shove whatever I like into Evernote, and know that it is easily retrievable within seconds with a powerful search tool. 

If you decide to use it, it can be your "second brain". You can have it running all day every day for personal stuff, business, studies and work stuff. It manages your contacts, your notes, ideas, and simple tasks like grocery list all the way up to major million-dollar projects and all the people working on those projects.

 Pricing: Free, Paid

Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

Free alternatives: OneNote, Google Keep, Notion

  1. LaTeX

LaTeX is a high-quality tool that makes technical and scientific documentation extremely easy and convenient.

Compared to MS Word, where you spend half the time thinking about tab and line spacing and font size, LaTeX allows you to create a template once and use it again and again. 

Managing large documents (100+ pages) is much easier in LaTeX (you can split your project into multiple files. Font designing, alignment, document pattern, spacing, line breaks, etc are much easier compared to Word. Latex helps to design quality documents that look like they’ve been designed by a professional.

Reference management is much easier with bibliographic files (you can use Mendeley or Zotero to manage your references).

LaTeX is almost mandatory for:

  • Papers with a lot (>300) of bibliographic references.

  • Large-sized documents with specific style and syntax.

  • Documents that require the use of multiple mathematical formulas.

Pricing: Free

Platform: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and Online

  1. Cloud Storage (Dropbox, Google Drive)

Cloud storage services allow users to store files on their servers, synchronize files across devices, and share files. This is very crucial not just for your thesis but for all your personal files as well.

Data stored in your hard disk could easily be destroyed or lost. Not having a cloud storage backup in such a situation could hamper your studies, exams, or even your job.

Pricing: Variable

Platform: Variable

  1. NVivo

NVivo is a software that can be used to analyze qualitative data like interviews, tweets, Facebook posts, and so on.

NVivo can be used in various researches in academic, health, and commercial researchers across a diverse range of fields.

 Pricing: Paid

Platform: Windows, macOS


MAXQDA is another software for qualitative analysis. Variable data including text and multimedia can be analyzed. It is extensively used in academic, scientific, and business institutions. 

It can be used to analyze wide varieties of data, including text, image, and audio-video.

Pricing: Paid

Platform: Windows, macOS


MATLAB is a scripting language that is predominantly used in mathematics and engineering.

It makes the visualization and representation of mathematical data very easy. You can perform basic mathematical operations, linear algebra, plotting, reading and writing common data types, and other similar basic tasks.

MATLAB is a very robust tool compared to excel, with many more features and a greater degree of customizability. One important aspect of MATLAB is that it creates beautiful graphs for academic thesis and papers.

 Pricing: Paid

Platform: Windows, macOS, and Linux

  1. R

R is a programming language that enables you to analyze statistical data and present it in graphical form. The R language is widely used in statistical analysis in every academic field. It is also widely used in large enterprises because of its robust and highly customizable features. ( Image Source )

R is the most popular software for statistical analysis. Learning R is a very powerful skill that you can take anywhere. The learning curve is steep. For a beginner without knowledge of any programming language, it might take months to get a good grasp of R. But there are tons of resources online, so you won’t get stuck.

 Pricing: Free


Other Good Software

  1. Be Focused:

It is a good Pomodoro timer. It times your activities and allows you to take breaks in between. An adequate combination of focus and rest is crucial for long term sustainability.

  1. f.lux:

Changes your screen color and brightness automatically. A must-have for nighttime reading.

  1. Foxit reader

Best pdf reader.


It has music that is good for concentration and focus.

Recommended reading: Best Software for Statistics and Data Analysis

Note: All the images are used for Representational Purpose.
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