Helpful hints and research tools
||I looked for places where there was physics research — in the UK and over in the States. Cambridge didn’t have as much radiation physics research.||
|- Sangeeta M., PhD student from India|
Many software packages are available to students for free or at discounted prices.
- Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office can be obtained for departmental use on-site from the department system adminstrator.
- A list of free and discounted software available from UCL can be found here. Free titles include Mathematica, SPSS and F-Secure antivirus.
- Viglen sells discounted software to students.
- Microsoft developer tools are available for free through the Dreamspark program. Highlights include Visual Studio Professional and Expression Studio.
- If you need to use a particular software package only occasionally, check to see if it is available on the WTS/Myriad client/server service.
- There are many free (as in beer and as in freedom) open source alternatives to popular commercial packages. Start by looking in sourceforge.net.
Reference / citation management
A good reference / citation manager for organising your paper collection is a must! Managing more than a handful of citations within a Word document without a reference manager is just asking for trouble.
- Mendeley - self-proclaimed as the last.fm of research, this free (as in beer) package consists of a downloadable client (Windows, Mac, Linux) that integrates with the social networking aspects of the online site.
- Zotero - a completely free and open-source Firefox add-in, this cross-platform reference manager is powerful and feature-rich.
- Papers - probably the most beautiful and easy to use reference manager, it is available only for Mac OS X. A discount is available for students.
- Endnote / Reference Manager - these old workhorse reference managers are reliable but have dated UIs. They are available for purchase from UCL.
These tools are not free, but can save you loads of time when organising your thoughts and your notes.
- Microsoft OneNote - a digital notebook, this program is included with Microsoft Office. All notes (including handwritten ones and images) are searchable thanks to the built-in OCR capabilities. Available only for Windows.
- Circus Ponies Notebook - beautiful and excellent, feature-rich digital notebook for the Mac.
- MindManager - popular mindmapping program for visually capturing concepts and graphing relationships. Available for Windows and Mac. Student discount available from Viglen.
- SnagIt - screen snapshot program. Very handy tool - well worth the cost.