Research Tools

I have used several tools have helped me immensely and would like to share them with everyone. The best of all is that most of these tools are FREE! Click on each tab to see free research related tools and tools you have to purchase.

These are some of the FREE Tools that are available for everyone. To visit the website of the provider of these tools simply click on the product image or the title which will open a new window.

Dropbox is a lifesaver for any researcher. There will be countless times that you wonder why you did not back-up a certain file after a disk drive failure. You need to install Dropbox on your computer and save all your important files there. All the files in your Dropbox folder will be automatically synced to the internet and you do not have to worry about backing-up that journal article that you have been working for years. Best of all, Dropbox can be installed in all your devices (your work pc, your home pc, your iPad, your SmartPhone) and all the files you store in the dropbox folder will be available in all your devices instantly.

Dropbox gives you 5Gb of storage space (more than enough for most of us) to store your data. If you sign up to Dropbox by clicking the above link, you will receive an extra 500Mb (using my referral). Go ahead, try it out and thank me later.

Those of us who write journal articles know the importance of a citation manager. Chances are you have been using EndNote for all the citation needs. But it costs $250 and Mendeley is a similar citation manager that is FREE. If you have been using EndNote, you can import all your EndNote files to Mendeley, so you will not have to start from scratch. Similar to Dropbox, Mendeley allows you to sync your citations so that the same citation will be available at home, work or your mobile device instantly.

Best of all, Mendeley allows you to share your citations with others which helps immensely in co-authored papers. All the authors can add citations to a folder shared by them without each other having to re-enter citations or have duplicate citations.

SmartPLS is a software application for the modeling of structural equation models (SEM) and their measurement with the methodology of the partial least squares (PLS)-analysis. The graphical path modeling is very easy and user friendly to use and allows the analysis of formative and reflective latent variables simultaneously. SmartPLS is more frequently used in Information Systems research since the last few years compared to other SEM software such as Lisrel and SPSS AMOS.

I used SmartPLS for my dissertation where I analyzed a first-order reflective, second-order formative research model. To download, visit their website by clicking the SmartPLS title or logo above and register. You will have to wait up to 24hrs to receive an activation code though email, after which you can start using the software. It works on Windows 8 too, but make sure you install the java version that comes packaged with the software.

G*Power 3 is a free statistical power analysis program. It covers many different statistical tests of the F, t, chi-square, and z test families as well as some exact tests. G*Power 3 provides improved effect size calculators and graphics options, it supports both a distribution-based and a design-based input mode, and it offers five different types of power analyses.

If you are working on a research project and want to get an idea of the sample size required with the expected effect size, G*Power can help you calculate the required sample size prior to your data collection. I have used this for several of my research projects. This software is developed and provided for free by Universität Düsseldorf.

While these tools/resources are NOT FREE, they would certainly help a great deal with academic research. Most of these tools provide a trial-version, which allows you to use it for a limited time and find out if it is something useful for your research work. There are many such tools out there, and these are some of which I found to be useful. To visit the website of the provider of these tools simply click on the product image or the title which will open a new window.

spssIBM SPSS Statistics
SPSS is one of the most powerful yet user-friendly statistical software available. It can be used to perform many different types of statistical analyses ranging from  regression tests, chi-square goodness of fit, binomial test, many types of t-tests, ANOVA tests, MANOVA tests, Wilcoxon tests, correlation tests, discriminant analysis, factor analysis and many more.

The only problem with the software is that it is expensive. But the good news is that most universities have licenses for SPSS which would allow faculty and students to use this software while on campus. IBM also offers cheap versions for students, where you can purchase a 12-month license for about $100.

Amos enables you to specify, estimate, assess and present models to show hypothesized relationships among variables. The software lets you build models more accurately than with standard multivariate statistics techniques. Users can choose either the graphical user interface or non-graphical, programmatic interface.

SPSS Amos allows you to build attitudinal and behavioral models that reflect complex relationships. The software provides structural equation modeling (SEM)—that is easy to use and lets you easily compare, confirm and refine models. It uses Bayesian analysis to improve estimates of model parameters and offers various data imputation methods to create different data sets. A 12-month rental of the software will cost only $50. If you have formative indicators in your model, you are better off using SmartPLS.

qualtricsQualtrics Surveys
This is a very powerful online survey tool that puts all other online survey tools to shame. Complex and interactive surveys can be built easily and quickly with Qualtrics. There a tons of options to tweak the online survey and the ability to apply logic to the questionnaires is unbelievable.

I have used Qualtrics along with Amazon Mechanical Turk to collect data for my research projects and it has been a very pleasant experience. Qualtrics also allows you to download your data files in SPSS, Excel and many other formats and also does some simple data analyses themselves. There is a free trial where you can try it out, but it is costly to purchase it individually. Unlimited academic licenses are the best way to go if your university can fund it.

mechanicalTurkAmazon Mechanical Turk
Mturk is a crowdsourcing internet marketplace provided by Amazon Web Services that allows individuals, researchers and businesses to use human intelligence to perform certain tasks. While there are many uses of Mturk, from a research perspective, this is an ideal way to collect data through online surveys. If you have an online survey and need to collect data from a certain demographic, industry or any criteria, Mturk allows you to filter out their population and make the survey available only to your selected criterion.

Of course you will have to pay for the individuals who are taking your survey, but most individuals are willing to take a 5-10 minute survey for less than $0.50 which makes it a great way to collect data. You also have to pay a commission to Amazon for every batch of data collected. Research data shows that the results of Mturk surveys are as reliable as data collected directly from students or corporate employees.

To be updated.