I'm already excited to get going with my new area of research for my PhD. Although nothing is set in stone, I would like to work with augmented reality, and am interested in applying the technology to educational entertainment. This will allow me to take a more people-oriented approach and learn a bit more about the psychology of human-computer interaction. I've started to collect stories, links, and papers on the topic, but wasn't sure how to best organize them all.
I started by putting some links together in Google Notebook, which is no longer being developed, but still available for current users. This is fine for some basic, unchanging links, like lists of software, conferences, etc, but isn't very good for organizing academic papers. I tried this during my Masters, and it's hard to make notes and find info using this method.
So I set out on a search for research tools. I got a few ideas through some basic searching, and got some pointers via my Twitter contacts. For example, check out this detailed article at The Byte Baker. A lot of the promising software seemed to be Mac only (I use Windows), but I eventually stumbled upon a few that seemed to fit my needs.
I found the following software that is either for Windows or is cross-platform:
JabRef is a reference database that I used during my Masters in conjunction with LyX to write my LaTeX papers. It runs in Java and is very easy to use. Highly recommended for making bibliographies, but not my first choice for general organization of potentially interesting papers.
Idea Rover "absorbs and crystallizes your research ideas and new sources into outline-structured notes, releasing your brain from monotonous switching and searching for relevant information." I haven't tried this yet because it seems that it would be more useful at a later stage, but I think I will give it shot eventually. At least it is targeted to PhD research specifically.
The one piece of software from this list that I have installed so far is Mendeley. It is "a research management tool for desktop & web." There are a few features that I really like so far. First, it has a PDF viewer that, while it seems to crash a little too often, does allow you to annotate your PDFs pretty easily. If you don't have the PDF, that's ok - you can still track the source and write notes about it. It connects to online citation sources to fill in missing info and can manage your PDF files if you want it to. You can synch your sources to your online account, making them available anywhere. There is a social network of academics that you can use to share your sources with if you want to (could be useful for a particular research group). Finally, it allows for some decent searching capabilities within your source list. So far a winner for me!
If you know any excellent tools for organizing PhD research and online PhD program research (at any stage of the game), tell me about it!