Software for Academic Writing and Research

These are a few tools that we or our students have found useful. Please let us know if you have other suggestions for inclusion in the list.


Free office suite competing with Microsoft Office. Includes word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentations. Compatible with MS Office files.


Free mind mapping software. Some people find this a useful way of developing their thoughts about a topic and the structure of their essays.


Low cost argument mapping software. Enables the structure of an argument to be displayed graphically in order to assess its soundness. You may find this a useful way of thinking about the structure of your essay or dissertation and assessing the strength of its arguments.


A free web-based alternative to citation managers such as EndNote. Integrates with your browser and enables you to store the references of articles you read online. Offline sources can be added manually. An alternative is Zotero (see below).

RSS Readers

Otherwise known as news aggregators, these make it easy to keep track of regularly updated web pages, e.g. news and journal contents pages. Many of the sites listed below include RSS feeds.

Google Scholar

A version of the Google search engine which searches within "peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations."

Google Scholar


Zotero is a free and very useful tool for managing your bibliography and research notes. It integrates into your web browser, so that once you’ve found the journal article you need, you can simply click and it will automatically download all the relevant citation details into its database. (Note that it does not work with Microsoft Internet Explorer. If you don’t already have it, you’ll need to download Mozilla Firefox. This is free and also generally considered to be superior.) An alternative is CiteULike (see above).