A Researcher’s iPad Tool Kit

Ever wondered whether you should purchase an iPad as a research tool? Ever thought about the compromises you might have to make, with your favourite software not available? Ever thought about the advantages of not having to carry your heavy laptop around?

Having been an enthusiastic Mac user for more years than I can remember, it was with great anticipation that I made a decision to purchase my first iPad (Retina screen), which was to become my mobile research desk. This replaced my ageing Power Mac G4 17″ laptop, which is both heavy and awkward to transport on a regular basis. It does however have all the ports needed to give a good presentation (VGA, disc drive, audio, firewire, ethernet, wifi etc) and may need to be recalled occasionally.

It’s not much good having a tool kit without any tools, so the careful selection of a set of iPad research tools has become one of the joys of my last few weeks. I have been more than impressed by the apps that are now available for the iPad3 as these have allowed me to integrate my University desk, the bus/plane and my home office and devise an efficient workflow.

What follows is a list of the apps I have selected after extensive research, which integrate with my Mac OS X software on my laptop. They have proven to be relatively inexpensive, especially with student discount.

So that you can understand the integration that I am trying to achieve, I have listed the software installed (Mac OS X) on my home laptop (MacBook Pro 17”, Snow Leopard) in italics. In many cases, there is an equivalent iOS5 (iPhone/iPad) version, but for others the developers are working towards this goal.

Core Research Tasks

iOS5 | Mac OS X

  • Recording: QuickVoice
  • Notetaking: Notability, PlainText
  • Reading: , Goodreader, iBooks, Kindle | Skim, Kindle
  • Annotating: PDF Expert | Skim
  • Brainstorming/Mindmapping: iThoughtsHD |¬† Mindnode Lite, Scrivener
  • Web Searching: ArticleSearch, Safari | DEVONagent Pro, Bookends, DEVONthink Pro Office, Firefox
  • Referencing: Bookends On Tap| Bookends
  • Storing and Organising: DEVONthink To Go, Bookends on Tap | DEVONthink Pro Office, Bookends, Excel
  • Exchanging/Syncing: Dropbox | Dropbox
  • Data Analysis: Dedoose | Dedoose
  • Writing: Scrivener, Mellel, Word
  • Presentations: Keynote | Snapz Pro, Keynote, Powerpoint, Mindnode Lite
  • Printing:¬†Printopia | Printopia
  • Communication: all of the following have iOS5 clients | FaceTime, Skype, Mail, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Blogger, WordPress


iOS5 | Mac OS X

  • Multiple clipboards, text manipulation: CopyPaste
  • Save files and open folders: Default Folder X
  • Additional Screen: Air Display
  • Remote Access from iPad: Splashtop Streamer

I will describe the reasons for my choices in the next few posts.

2 thoughts on “A Researcher’s iPad Tool Kit

    • Not currently, but will probably when my interviews start. I trialled it with 600 comments on a forum, but it had limitations as I couldn’t provide enough demographic information about the participants to get full data analysis.

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