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Digital Tool Review


March 24, 2015 by cdavis132

For the digital research tool review assignment, I am reviewing Zotero, Google Drive, Stayfocusd and Onenote. I have had lots of experience using Google Drive, Stayfocusd and Onenote. Zotero I have chosen not to use, because I had already developed my own way of tracking the sources that I use.  

Google Drive: (Ease of use 5/5)

Google Drive, is by far the tool I have the most experience with. I have found that google docs, is the best way for me to organize my notes, papers, blog post and presentations. As a free online alternative to microsoft office Google Drive is easy to use and easy to share for collaborative projects. For me personally I like having all of my documents in one location. From the google drive I have been able to organize all of my notes, papers, blog post and presentations. I have been able to organize them all in a way which makes it easy for me to use. For example I have one folder entitled graduate work year one, within that folder there six more folders each labeled as one of the class that I had taken during my first year here at GSU. Within the class folders are any papers I wrote, notes I took or presentations I gave. I have done the same for my second year here, as well as any work I have done for the blog I write for. More so Google Drive is accessible on any computer, where you can log into your personal google account, and even on your mobile device.


OneNote: (Ease of use 3.5/5)

Google Drive became my main way of organizing my documents, after I purchased a new computer and decided not to re-buy Microsoft office. However, prior to this I used the program onenote to help in organizing any notes that I had taken in classes or group meetings.

Onenote was an interesting program, and while it was easy to use, it was only a note taking/organizing tool. The program allows you to create simple or complex notes from scratch and organize them into searchable documents. You can use Onenote along with the other microsoft applications, but still things seemed to be more disconnected, than they are when using google drive. I have learned that the newer versions of the program have become more compatible with different devices. Though I have not had much experience with the newer versions, I imagine that the program has become easier to use and sync with other applications.


Stayfocusd: (Ease of use 4/5)

The next research tool I decided to try out was Stayfocusd, a website limiting program. If you are like me when you sit down to write a paper you will actually wind up spending hours on Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler or going down the many rabbit holes you find yourself in on Wikipedia. Stayfocusd is a free extension you can add when using google chrome. The extension essentially blocks or limits your time on certain websites that you find distracting when trying to do research or writing. It is easy to use and you can customize the days and times when you want the program to take over and help to keep you focused on your work. I tend to use the customized days and times rather than the time limits function. To me this makes more sense than the time limits per-day, simply because some days I know that I can spend more than an hour on “time-wasting websites.”

I have found that even with just the default settings Stayfocusd can help you be more productive with your time spent online. Another bonus for Stayfocusd is that it is free, there are many other apps similar to stayfocusd, but they don’t offer as many options and normally come with a cost.


Zotero: (Ease of use 3.5/5)

Lastly I chose to talk about the citation tool Zotero, it might come as a shock to many, but I actually don’t use Zotero, rather I have over the years developed my own system of tracking the sources I have used. I began creating a spreadsheet in high school where I entered in any information about a source I was using. This carried on into my undergraduate work. My Junior year was when I was first introduced to Zotero, I tried to use it, but found that I like my own system better.  I like the idea that I can link my sources from websites, the library catalog, etc. directly to Zotero, and while I am not able to do this with my own spreadsheet, I am more comfortable remaining set in my ways.
From my use of all these tools I think that the one thing that is made clear is that you have to find programs that are compatible with you, and what you feel comfortable working with.


  1. Julie says:

    For me, I think Zotero does sort of require a balance between new and old organization and citation methodology. I know I spend a lot of time going back and forth with editing the source information that Zotero has pulled from a given site or article. Sometimes it’s more accurate than others, which makes me wonder if it would have been easier to just use my old methods rather than trying to catch mistakes or missing information. I definitely think it’s something that gets easier the longer you use it.

  2. Adina Langer says:


    I appreciate your analysis of the utility of digital tools as tools. I think you are correct that the most important thing about any program is that it be compatible with you and that you feel comfortable working with it. That being said, it’s always good to try out new things just in case they offer an improvement over older methods.

  3. rjordan10 says:

    The idea Stayfocusd sounds like a great idea! I think I will definitely look into that, since when I sit down with my laptop, the first page I open is usually Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media page. I’ve even caught myself sitting down to do research, and just basically on autopilot going to Facebook. I will for sure be looking that up in the future, even though with things like phones and tablets, I’m guessing it doesn’t have a one hundred percent success rate, unfortunately.
    I have heard a lot of things, mostly good, about Google Drive, but have never used it myself. I have heard the name thrown around pretty much for my entire graduate school career, and now, in my last semester of classes, I think I might go and see what it is about. I have used Google Docs several times throughout grad school, including for this class, and am a fan, so Google Drive definitely sounds promising.

  4. acoleman34 says:

    Google drive is amazing to me. Similar to dropbox and other cloud programs, google drive is great for storing all your documents in a central location. I actually use both Google Docs and Dropbox as backups for my papers and important documents on my hard drive. Unfortunately i know the heart sinking feeling of a computer crash and the even deeper sinking feeling and realization that you lost all your work, so now i back most of my stuff up at least once on these types of programs and even flash drive. Some might call it obsessive–I call it being safe rather than sorry. I definitely recommend Zotero but if you have your own system that you’re comfortable with, as Adina said, that’s what matters. I’ve never tried OneNote or Stayfocused but i’ll have to check them out. Stayfocused seems right up my alley. I definitely have a procrastination bone somewhere in my body so maybe a tool like that would encourage me to get work done instead of cruising the internet and getting caught up in click-bait sites.

  5. lspencer12 says:

    I like the rating system. It tells me all I need to know, it needs to be at least 3.5 on easy of use. With that being said, StayFocus and Google Drive would be the two programs I would consider using. I like the ideal of Stayfocused, I often find myself working on several projects at the same time especially when areas of my research project intersect other areas of research. Sometimes, I do get distracted with new scholarship. Google Drive I never used but it does not hurt to give it a try. Actually using several combinations of programs might be useful as a backup.

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