Best Apps for Academics

Use the best apps for your academic work
Best Apps for Academics







The best mobile apps are helping scholars organize their information effectively.

As busy academics, you are focused on quality and productivity. Contrary to the popular idea that apps are only useful for “consumption,” the best mobile apps are being used as tools to enable learning and knowledge creation — and they can help you streamline your research, publishing, and teaching.

Save time and reduce frustration by using the best mobile apps

Take notes and organize them 
Take notes in formats that work best for you, including audio notes, handwritten notes, or by typing. With apps like Notability, Penultimate, and Evernote you can input information, organize and tag it, and find it again in the massive storehouse of data that most scholars accumulate.

Streamline your research
Streamline your research with apps like Papers 3, Pubget, and Wolfram Alpha. Learn how other academics are using these apps to increase their productivity.

Synchronize your life
In this multi-device, multi-platform world, you need the best tools for keeping in sync everywhere. Apps like Dropbox, Evernote, Box, and Google Drive help you avoid synchronization insanity.

Present information effectively
Make slides that communicate information effectively with apps like Haiku Deck, Keynote, and Slideshark.

Save time, use the best
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the huge number of apps out there (some of poor quality), then this book is for you.

This 155-page PDF ebook includes:

  • Detailed descriptions of 44 best apps. (iOS and Android)
  • Links to 125 additional apps (honorable mentions).
  • Examples of how mobile apps are being used by academics to save time, and enable creative learning experiences.
  • Links to app guides for specific disciplines.
  • A resource guide of books, blogs, and courses about mobile apps.

Download a free sample (PDF)


Published 2014 & still current in 2021.

The apps we wrote about in late 2014 are still the best in 2018.

See our updates page for a few minor things that have changed since the book was published.


About the Authors

Our experience working at the MIT Libraries helped us understand the needs of busy academics.

Nicole Hennig

Nicole Hennig is an independent user experience professional, helping librarians and educators use the best mobile technologies. She worked as webmaster and head of user experience for the MIT Libraries for over a decade. She is a winner of multiple awards, including the MIT Excellence Award for Innovative Solutions.





Pam NicholasPam Nicholas enjoys helping people navigate the technological landscape as an IT professional for the MIT Libraries, where she received an Infinite Mile Award for results, outcome, and productivity. In addition, she spends her time writing, making music, and taking photographs.


Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – Productivity

  • Managing files in the cloud
  • Managing and generating secure passwords
  • To-do lists
  • Calendars
  • Journaling
  • Other useful productivity apps

Chapter 2 – Reading & Annotating

  • Reading and annotating documents
  • Reading ebooks
  • Managing citations
  • Reading news via RSS
  • Reading news with smart recommendations
  • Saving web pages to read later

Chapter 3 – Research & Reference

  • Specialized search engines
  • Wikipedia client
  • Dictionary
  • Private search engine
  • Unit conversions
  • Subscription database content provided by your library
  • Finding open access articles and publications
  • Special exhibit apps from libraries and archives

Chapter 4 – Taking Notes, Writing, & Studying

  • Best full-featured notes app
  • Taking notes by handwriting and sketching
  • Recording audio notes
  • Speech recognition
  • Scanning documents
  • Text editor for Dropbox
  • Microsoft Office editor
  • Create beautifully formatted documents
  • Flashcards for studying
  • Mind mapping
  • More useful apps for note-taking, writing, or studying
  • Recommended accessories

Chapter 5 – Collaboration & Sharing

  • Full-featured social media app
  • Shared whiteboard
  • Collaborate with mapping tools
  • Distance meetings and presentations

Chapter 6 – Presenting, Lecturing & Publishing

  • Edit and present slide decks
  • Create simple, beautiful presentations
  • Mirror the display of iPads with projector or large display
  • Create interactive ebooks

Chapter 7 – Discipline-Specific Examples & Guides


  •    Language and literature
  •     Digital humanities
  •     Art
  •     Journalism
  •     Social science research
  •     Biology
  •     Geology
  •     Medicine
  •     Computer science and engineering
  •     Math

App guides:

Art, Engineering, Geology, Journalism, Language-learning, Math, Medicine, Multiple subjects, Science, Social sciences

Chapter 8 – Further Resources

  •  Books, blogs, and more