strangedave (strangedave) wrote,
strangedave
strangedave

academic software tools

I see a fair bit of academic writing in my future. I basically live on my Mac, and even if I get an IPad etc it will have to be supplementary not primary. On some areas, I'm very seriously tooled up as far as software goes — geek stuff I need for computer consulting work, development tools, music and audio software, even some areas that I don't really need or use much but just happen to have acquired licenses for (through MacHeist, etc), such as image editing (I own licences for Graphic Converter, Pixelmater, Acorn, Intaglio, Vector Designer, plus LightZone for photos, plus open source ones, etc -- and maybe do some minor graphic editing once every couple of months).
But now I am thinking I should get tooled up as far software I am going to likely use for writing academic papers, and policy work, and keeping track of research. I'm probably going to be mostly looking at humanities based work, with relatively modest needs for graphs and maths, though this isn't 100%. And I'd like some suggestions and recommendations.
I think I basically want: an outliner; some sort of keep track of lots of bits and pieces database (what I'm calling an unstructured database, basically apps to keep track of relevant documents and snippets of data by project); a bibliography database app that integrates with Word. I am also thinking about changing away from Word as my primary word processor, but I know I won't be able to do this fully for work that involves interacting with other people. I have used, and been very happy with OmniOutliner as an outliner in the past. I have a licence for DEVONThink, which seems to be a very capable unstructured database app. Friends seem to love Scrivener, which includes both outlining and unstructured database capabilities, but seems to be far more directed at fiction writing than academic writing. I have licences for two bibliography database apps already, BookEnds and EndNote, but I haven't used either enough to yet have a clear preference, and I would appreciate hearing experiences with either.
So, any recommendations and experiences? Any other advice? Anything I am missing?
As far as my own preferences go: I dislike TeX/LaTeX based solutions (I have vaguely positive feelings about XML though, and would even contemplate a little XSLT hacking), I find iPad/iPhone integration to be a big plus (even though I don't have an iPad yet), I like Keynote and working with that is a plus, but I also have to use Powerpoint and Word somewhat.
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