Academic Software

Many software applications have been written to help with problems in teaching and academic life: recording lectures for review, managing research literature, wrangling intellectual property, applying for grants, updating your CV and publishing to the web. Some academic software solutions are web applications which run in a browser; some run on your desktop computer, some run as plugins to your existing software, some run in conjunction with mobile apps.

Here are some new hot picks recommended by the [Digital Services Unit staff of the UTSC Library].

- annotate video? [ELAN] is a free tool for annotating video with text data, out of the Netherlands

- capture and edit audio? [Audacity] is an easy-to-use, free open source tool, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems.

- make maps? [QGIS] is a free, open source geographic information system (GIS) for the desktop.

- temporal narratives with a bit of geodata?  Try the Open Knowledge Foundations's [Time Mapper], or if you can do some javascript, the Knight Foundation's [Timeline.js] or [Storymap.js]

- animated maps? [ARCGIS StoryMap]  - animated infographics? [PikToChart]

Our regular hot picks are:


The stock and trade of academic work are peer reviewed articles and citation. Zotero collects all your research in a single, searchable interface. You can add PDFs, images, audio and video files, snapshots of web pages, and really anything else. Zotero automatically indexes the full-text content of your library, enabling you to find exactly what you're looking for with just a few keystrokes. [visit the site]

Screen shot of Zotero download page


Winner of many design awards, an advanced solution for managing citations. From their website: Sick of that big pile of paper on your desk? Forgot in which article you read about that interesting experiment? Papers will revolutionize the way you deal with scientific papers. Search for papers using PubMed, directly retrieve and archive PDFs, and read and study them all from within Papers, your personal library of Science. This is an excellent solution, and a bargain at $5/month billed annually, so $60. [visit the site]

Screen shot of Papers application, Yosemite desktop

Screenflow (MAC)

Award winning screencast application for MacOS.  Record your screen as you deliver a lecture or computer-based tutorial and also record the audio and/or video from your webcam or another device at the same time.  For multi-screen setups, just select the screen you wish to record.   Make videos of tethered iOS devices just by selecting the device.  Do-it-yourself web optioning or tutorials for students who miss, as easy as clicking "record", "stop record", and "File>Export". Costs only $129, and you can try it for 30 days. [visit the site]

Screen shot of Telestream Screenflow home page

Camtasia (PC)

People don't want a long, drawn-out explanation. They want to see what you're talking about. With Camtasia Studio, you can record your PC screen and create professional-looking videos that clearly demonstrate a process, a product, or an idea. The gold standard in PC software: outputs in Flash, Quicktime, .avi, MPEG-4, just about every video format that exists. More versatility than Screenflow, with video-oriented features. A proven solution, I've used it for 5+ years.

Camtasia 2020 costs $346.11 CAD, educational pricing. [visit the site].   Or you can use the U of T licensed Techsmith Snagit, from the same company, for free.   It has fewer features, but it is well supported and easy to use.

Screen shot of Techsmith Camtasia, Full Edition


Prezi - InfoVis for your presentations

Don't you wish your lectures in Powerpoint could convey more than the typical linear and hierarchical relationship of concepts? Try Prezi, the web-based, Web 2.0 friendly zooming presentation editor. Author presentations on the web, collaborate with others and embed them anywhere you like for free. [visit the site]

Screen shot of Prezi website

The Brain (Mac or PC) - InfoVis for your desktop

Typical computers have between 100,000 - 10,000,000 user-generated files. But files and folders are incapable of expressing the multi-dimensional relationships and concepts that give your information intelligence and meaning. Try The Brain, dynamic mind mapping software that lets you link your ideas, files and web pages the way you think, in a concept map. Free download and 30 day trial for professional mode, then it reverts to a more basic set of features. $219 to purchase. [visit the site]

 Screen shot of The Brain concept mapping software website


ProQuest Pivot Website

Fishing for funds? The Pivot website is a worldwide clearinghouse for opportunities: from small (and occasionally arcane) grad student grants, to massive internationally-funded collaborations. You can't get a grant if you don't apply! [visit the site]

Screen shot of University of Toronto pivot interface

We also have a large variety of academic software licensing both [for Faculty] and available in the [Student Computing Labs] for teaching.

Have you heard about a general release application that solves an academic or research domain problem that should be a 'hot pick'? Let us know, we'll add it.