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Laptops and desktops are ideal when you have to do serious research, but when you’re on the go and don’t have the time or space for either of those, there’s no reason why you can’t turn to that mobile device you’re always carrying around.
As long as you view it for what it is — a backup method rather than a primary method — you’ll be surprised at how much productivity you can wring out of those small moments here and there. And I’m talking about real research here, not just simple Google lookups and Wikipedia searches.
All you need is a few tips and tricks to help you maximize your research efficiency.
1. Take Advantage of Google
Google searches are so powerful that you can cut your researching time in half if you utilize all of the cool search tricks available to you — but that’s not what I want to highlight here. Learning to use Google properly should be a given for any serious researcher.
But you can take it to the next level with some of the features in both Google Docs and Google Now.
If you use Google Docs on Android, then you absolutely must learn how to use the built-in Research tool. It allows you search the Web from within your current document and insert any images or text you find with a single tap.
It seems an awful lot like copy and paste, but it’s a convenience feature that shaves off wasted time that can add up over the long run (it really pays off on long-term research papers).
If you allow Google to track your searches, you can use the Research Topics feature which groups your recent searches together and allows you to further explore said topics. It’s extremely useful in the early stages of research when you’re just grasping for as many related articles as possible.
And if you’re on Android M, there’s a new feature called Google Now on Tap that pulls up relevant search information based on the context of whatever is on your screen. Not as useful as Research Topics, but still has its place in the early stages of research.
2. Use Proper Notetaking Apps
On an Android device, one of the key components of true productivity is knowing which apps to use and making the most of them, and when it comes to efficient digital notetaking, few apps can claim to be better than Microsoft’s OneNote.
We’ve already explored several reasons to start using OneNote, but perhaps the most compelling reason is that it’s now completely free. Evernote is a strong contender — especially with its Web Clipper feature — but OneNote is more flexible, organized, and polished.
Ultimately, you should use the notetaking app that’s most conducive to your own research workflow. As long as it has all of the features you need, don’t be afraid to use whichever app you like best. (If you end up being convinced, we have an easy guide for migrating Evernote to OneNote).
But no matter which app you choose, always make sure that it’s available on both mobile and desktop platforms and that it can seamlessly sync between the two. Even if you do all of your research on a mobile device, you’ll inevitably want that research data available on your desktop too.
3. Save for Offline Reading
One of the worst things that can happen when researching is building up a huge compilation of links and websites — only to find yourself without an Internet connection and unable to access all of those precious sources. That’s why you should think about deferring to a “read it later” app.
Two well-known options are Pocket and Readability [Broken URL Removed].
Pocket is compatible with all Android browsers and saves webpages locally for offline viewing — and not only webpages, but also images, videos, and pretty much any other type of content. Readability also saves webpages for offline viewing, but it declutters articles so that they’re easier to read.
Our recommended workflow is to browse the Web when you have an Internet connection and save as many sources as you can while you’re able to. Then, during those times when you have no Internet (e.g. commuting on a subway without reception) you can curate everything you’ve saved.
An alternative that you could consider is an advanced screenshot app like Apowersoft Screenshot, which has the ability to snapshot an entire website and save it as an image.
4. Switch to a Tablet ASAP
All of the tips above work well enough on a smartphone, but if you’re truly going to be conducting a lot of mobile research, you should invest in a tablet if you don’t have one already. If you do own one, start using it!
Even though tablets aren’t as comfortable or productive as laptops, they don’t trail far behind. In fact, if you’re willing to invest in a few peripherals — like a tablet keyboard — then you can actually turn your tablet into a laptop.
The good thing is that a research-only tablet can be extremely cheap. You don’t need next-gen graphics or massive amounts of storage or a 13-inch screen. We still recommend reading up on what to know before buying a tablet, but you pretty much can’t go wrong.
And if you’re having a tough time justifying such a purchase, remember that there are plenty of creative uses for a tablet that you can enjoy as well.
How Do You Research on Android?
Despite the usefulness of these tips, don’t forget that you should also learn as many general Android tips and tricks as you can. Nothing will boost your productivity and confidence on a mobile device more than knowing how to use the device itself.
And if you have trouble knowing where to conduct research, consider using the Deep Web to find articles and data that simply can’t be reached by means of a search engine.
Got any tips of your own? What frustrates you the most when you have to research on Android? Drop a comment below and share your thoughts with us!
Image Credits: Man Using Tablet by nito via Shutterstock