Top 10 FREE Academic Research Tools that You Must Use NOW

Jul 24, 2022 · 3 mins read
Top 10 FREE Academic Research Tools that You Must Use NOW

Conducting academic research is hard. Whether it be searching for articles, reading through tons of papers or maybe writing one yourself, the work can take its toll. This article consists of a list of free tools that you can use at various steps of your research activities that just might make your life a little easier.

1. Google Scholar

If you already know about Google Scholar don’t go away yet, we are just getting warmed up and this list would be incomplete without mentioning it.

For those of you who don’t know, Google Scholar is Google’s search engine that solely focuses on showing search results from articles, journals, conferences, books, etc. When searching for papers, a normal Google search usually doesn’t show the best results. Google Scholar excels at this.

2. Overleaf (Document Editor)

Overleaf is an online LaTeX editor that makes writing academic papers a breeze. LaTeX is the most commonly used format for preparing academic papers. Although there are many desktop LaTeX editors, overleaf is superior because-

  • No need to set up locally (some editors are a pain to setup)
  • Awesome user experience
  • Documents can be accessed from anywhere because they are stored in the cloud
  • Collaborative editing (up to 1 user in the free plan)
  • All important libraries/packages are already installed so no need to manually install them

3. Mendeley/Zotero (Citation anager)

To conduct an effective literature review, going through tons of papers is a necessity. It’s easy to lose track of all the important information collected from papers and reference them later. Thus we need a citation manager like Mendeley or Zotero. With them, you can-

  • Compile and organize all your sources in one place
  • Annotate and create notes
  • Read and share pdfs
  • Format references to create citations and bibliographies

4. Sci-Hub (Free access to papers)

Sci-Hub provides access to millions of research papers for free. If you need a paper that’s behind a paywall, try searching it on Sci-Hub first. It’s very likely you’ll find it there.

5. Libgen (Free access to books)

Libgen is similar to Sci-hub for books. For any books that you might need, you can find them on libgen.

6. Zenodo

Often times you will need to provide links to your own datasets in your articles. You can upload such datasets to Zenodo and refer to them in your paper. Zenodo is especially helpful when your conference/journal follows blind/double-blind reviews. Zenodo links can be made anonymous so they can conform to these kinds of reviews.

7. CORE (Conference rankings)

To determine the rank/quality of a conference you can use CORE rankings.

8. SJR (Journal rankings)

To determine the rank/quality of a Journal you can use SJR.

9. BibTeX Converter

Sometimes you might need to convert bibtex citations to well formatted text references. This online tool BibTeX to APA converter is very well suited to do that.

10. Dataset Search Tool

Many of the researches conducted today are data driven and it is important to find the right datasets for your research. Google has this new search engine that is exclusive for searching datasets that you can use to find the right data set for your research.

11. CSRankings

This is a very niche tool that probably won’t help you conduct research activities. However, it would be a nice addition to include it in this list. If you’re interested in studiying a computer science/software engineering abroad, you can use to find rankings of universities where you might want to study.


I hope the above list of tools makes your academic life a little easier. Are there any useful tools that I’m missing? Comment them down below and let me know.

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