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I'm searching for a PC program, that syncs to the cloud (to Dropbox?), that will allow me comfortable management of PhD research, kind of a digital lab book. That includes -

  • Comfortably adding daily/weekly progress reports
  • Organizing material on several projects, including pictures, summaries, presentations and analytical results (build in Latex/Overleaf support?)
  • optional small calendar/event feature - manage PhD progress reports, talks, travels, etc.
  • optional link to Mendeley, or comfortable resources management.

Preferably free programs, but not expensive solutions (less than 100$ per year) are welcome as well. My friends recommended Microsoft OneNote, however it's less comfortable for me.

My field is physics, so biology or other field focused programs are less desirable.

  • I think you actually want several different programs, one for each of these tasks. – Anonymous Physicist Nov 2 '20 at 6:17
  • @AnonymousPhysicist you have suggestions? What do you recommend? – Alexander Nov 2 '20 at 8:04
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I'm also in physics and I use Notion. It is a web-based platform that allows you to build an entire workspace (some call it a "second brain") and really tailor it to your own needs. It also has an Android and iOS app. You can use it for very basic tasks like to-do lists and notes, but once you get the hang of it you can extend it to manage your whole workflow.

For example, I have a board showing each project as individual cards that can be sorted according to the stage of the project, collaborators, topic etc (you can define all of these tags or categories yourself). Then within each project I have a table for the relevant literature and a work diary (essentially a lab book) where I record all my progress and results. Notion supports inline and block LaTeX equations. It has a calendar feature to record events, and I think you can even set reminders through it, though I haven't tried that. It has a database feature that can do basic operations on the cells and their contents, like Excel. I use this to manage my travel and budget.

For all of these things, you can design your own template (or use one of the many community-created ones), so it's easy to write your daily or weekly report, as you have the template ready every time. You can upload images or add them directly from the web. You can link to any page within your own workspace and embed pdfs or other websites on any of your pages.

You can add collaborators to individual pages or the whole workspace. Overall, the whole thing is really well designed and maintained, and so many features have been added in the year or so I've been using it that I'm sure I've missed most of them in my description here. In my opinion, it blows any other competitor out of the water.

The best part? It's free.

Hopefully this doesn't read like a spam answer -- I'm not a paid promoter of Notion! I just really enjoy using it, and it is the first tool I've ever used that has actually resulted in me becoming more productive.

  • Looks great! I'll give it a try. – Alexander Nov 1 '20 at 17:14

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