A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Get the thesis party started

Tips, tricks & tools!

People often assume that once you’ve found the motivation to f-i-n-a-l-l-y start working on your thesis (or paper/essay, for that matter), it’ll all work itself out. You’ve already made your way through the 7 rings of hell of procrastination, and you no longer want to burst out crying every time a relative mentions the ‘T’ word at a family gathering, so that’s progress right?! And beating procrastination is definitely something that deserves to be celebrated. I should know, because I’m procrastinating as we speak by working on this post, instead of on my thesis which is due tomorrow…

Still though: even when you’ve finally found the motivation, it can be hard to really start working productively. If you find yourself confused about which direction you want to take your thesis in, or any paper or essay really, here are 5 tools, tips and tricks that have helped me out.

  1. Docear

    Docear is an incredibly useful tool: it’s a free, open-source program that lets you import all the PDFs you’re using for a project and then make mind maps linked to those PDFs. Mind maps are already very useful on their own, but what’s special about Docear is that if you click on the PDF connected to a node in the mind map, it immediately opens the PDF. If you annotate or highlight something in the PDF, this will automatically be updated and incorporated into the mind map as well. For example, if I were to click on the PDF file for the ‘Andersen’ article and make annotations in it, these annotations would show up next to where the article is in the mind map.


    PDFs connected to the structure of the paper


    A separate mind map for the organization of the paper


  2. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

    We all know Adobe Reader, but surprisingly few students know about Acrobat Reader DC. If you hate switching behind different windows but LOVE having 40 tabs open (I’m not kidding, I have 40 tabs open at the moment), this program offers the chance to do just that.


    Switching between tabs

  3. OneTab extension

    Again, it is a well-known, academically sound fact that students love having way too many tabs open. The OneTab extension is super helpful, because it allows you to collect all of your tabs into one tab and re-open them later.

  4. EasyBib

    When in doubt about all those MLA citations you just manually created – or if you’re too lazy for manual citations to begin with – use EasyBib, a citation generator that has saved my life many times in the past.

  5. Momentum

    To-do lists and inspirational quotes are never a bad idea, and this browser extension is both useful and easy on the eyes.


    New home page

    Especially during a time when I would much rather be out for drinks with my international friends who will be leaving after this semester, or enjoying the (occasionally) lovely summer weather, these tools, tips & tricks have made my writing process a lot easier. Use them and you shall never procrastinate again.


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This entry was posted on May 31, 2016 by in Practical Stuff, Roxy, Study, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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