15 Free Research Tools for Grad Students

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: May 10, 2024, Reading time: 14 minutes

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The passion for learning and discovery drives many students to pursue graduate studies. Having a higher education usually gives you a sense of pride and achievement. Other factors, such as cultural motivation and family influence, and support, are undeniably paramount when deciding to pursue graduate study.

Students might enroll in graduate courses to prepare for a career that requires a graduate degree, change career paths, or improve their opportunities for advancement. Whatever your reason for pursuing a graduate study, you could have lots of benefits from it.

In 2021 alone, among the 4.43 million college students about to graduate, about 5% will earn a doctorate or professional degree. 

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According to Penn State News, graduate education plays a crucial role in the progress of many industries and societies worldwide. Grad students’ contributions to ongoing research help everyone in diverse communities better understand the natural and human world we all live in.

Researchers can use this research to uncover natural, cultural, imaginative, social, technological, and mechanical phenomena and solve problems by pursuing knowledge. Therefore, graduate students are engaged in a societal process that helps society understand the world’s complexity and issues better and a quest for personal growth or an expansion of their learning and understanding. 

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Skills You Can Gain From a Graduate Study

The following are some skills that you can acquire in your pursuit of graduate study:

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The Utilization Of Online Tools

Due to the virtual nature of learning and working, mastering online tools has become increasingly important. Learners can use technology to become more effective and to optimize their research. It can be beneficial to integrate some helpful technology into the study and thesis-writing process. This will enable you as a grad student to have flexibility in your life. You can have a better work-life balance which allows you to have more chances for employability.

Graduate students need the right tools to assist with their research. By utilizing these tools, your research will not only become more accessible but also more productive, as it will make tasks that otherwise seem tedious much easier.

When you’ve encountered internships while handling research and project reports simultaneously, you can understand how valuable these research tools will be as a busy grad student. Strenuous work and juggling different data can be a lot to take in. With the help of practical tools, you can better organize and prioritize tasks daily.

Regardless of the field of study you are in, this article will showcase helpful tools that will prove to provide ease in your student life. STEM researchers rely on such tools as the bread and butter of their research. Get ready as you delve into the ultimate FREE graduate help tools! 

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Free Research Tools for Grad Students

Here’s a rundown of the great apps for grad school, ranging from productivity-enhancing tools to distraction-reducing tools.


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The Grammarly software has changed the way people read and perceive all kinds of text since it was released in July 2009. Several academicians use it, and those working in an office need support for creating documents and articles. This AI-powered tool can correct spelling, grammar, sentences, punctuation, and a lot more.

The majority of your duties as a graduate student will involve writing, editing, and checking research papers. No day passes when you don’t either check something your professor handles for you or write your own report or article. Grammatical rules play a crucial role in professional writing. Grammarly will help you escape and avoid careless mistakes that lead to papers being rejected.

Grammarly is compatible with all platforms. It is easy to install on an MS Word document and is consistent with various plugin browsers like Safari, Firefox, Edge, and Chrome. You can also access it using a mobile device. Signing up is easy and free, and you can navigate effortlessly.

MIT OpenCourseWare

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology created the now-popular MIT OpenCourseWare in 2001 as a self-guided teaching resource for undergraduates and graduate students. Courses can be accessed, downloaded, and shared freely without registering and can be taken at any time. Close to 2500 MIT graduate course materials are available on OpenCourseWare, ranging from the liberal arts to STEM topics. This school app also offers graduate programs in medical care, education, and sustainable energy. You can also watch their lectures on YouTube and listen to podcasts.

Google Scholar

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Hundreds of thousands of scholarly articles are available via Google Scholar. These resources have been sourced from historical data until the modern era. Using this resource, graduate students can search hundreds of renowned journal publications from across a broad range of disciplines. Also included in the portal are details about the authors, their books published, and citations. The material is ranked based on its content, where it was published, when it was published, its author, and how often other authors cited it.

Google Scholar, released on November 20, 2004, is a collection of scholarly publications that gives users access to published or upcoming work in the field.

The Google Scholar database is packed with papers from top publishers, making it a perfect tool for grad students like you to utilize documents relevant to your research topics. 

You can use Google Scholar to find citations easily. Visit the site and type in the topic you are searching for. Quote marks will appear next to the topics. The citations for different types of press can be found by clicking on them.

You can also access related articles and go directly to the page of the content you’ve been searching for. If you are looking for a professor but cannot locate their profile, chances are they have a Google Scholar page.

Team Viewer

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Founded in 2005, TeamViewer facilitates online remote access and collaboration in more than 160 countries. Users can download the free software for their computers or even download it as an app for their smartphones. TeamViewer will ask for your partner ID once it is installed so you can choose to connect. When the other computer’s password is confirmed, you can be able to access through. 

Working collaboratively is easy with Team Viewer. Graduate students often have to cooperate with professors or other graduate students located elsewhere. When dealing with partners, remotely accessing their PCs can come in handy. It’s possible to monitor each other’s simulations and to control each other’s PCs. The college computer connected to the servers can also be accessed remotely from your laptop. In this way, the process can be significantly accelerated.


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This typesetting software is used to write CVs, reports, theses, books, research papers, and the like for academic purposes. Here’s where you can get help if you’re having formatting issues. Moreover, LaTeX can create posters, presentations, journal articles, and anything you need for your grad school.

There are countless templates available that can help you present your hard work accurately. Academicians worldwide use this tool to enhance their research, and it is accessible in both online and offline formats.

You can better take control of your subject by using Grammarly and LaTeX together. If you wonder how some people could write pages using mathematical equations, LaTeX makes it all easily possible. It allows you to write equations just as quickly as writing them down on your hand, no more searching for beta symbols in your Microsoft Word.


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Online courses offered by Udemy are far more affordable and can be taken anywhere, anytime. Additionally, some of their classes are provided free of charge. In addition to free resources, the site offers a good deal of video tutorials that help grad students supplement or enhance their coursework.

Udemy is home to the usual coding, computer science, and language subjects and free and brief courses. Among the topics listed on their course list are emotional intelligence, work productivity, leadership, and other soft skills. These subjects are all beneficial for preparing to enter the corporate world after completing your grad studies.  

Academic Earth

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Grad school coursework is uncommon and discouraged if it is taken without a strategic purpose. To pursue a particular research topic, you may need to expose yourself to material covered in introductory courses. Thankfully, you do not need to go through with that struggle anymore. 

Several universities participate in Academic Earth, which provides free video lectures from their faculty. Currently, the content is not comprehensive, but it will only grow as more universities participate in the project.

Academic Earth’s objective is to place distance learning at the forefront of higher education. They are making efforts to achieve it by providing a well-curated collection of learning materials created by renowned universities, including Yale, MIT, CalTech, and an increasing number of educational institutions. 

There are also investigative reporting-style short videos on the site, which could aid grad students in essay writing and making research papers. A series of videos on various subjects are provided periodically, from mathematics to information technology, literature to health policy. You can find a whole variety of topic resources from this free tool.

Mendeley Desktop

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This software helps researchers organize their work. There’s no better place to save your papers, dissertation, books, and documents than in a single drive that’s accessible and available anywhere in the world. Even if you are far from your computer, you can still access your data by logging in to Mendeley.

On Mendeley’s desktop, you can find all the information about authors, titles, publishers, and abstracts in one place. This makes the process of referencing quicker and more convenient. The papers can also be shared with professors or fellow graduate students, and annotations can be added to make information sharing easier.

A three-person team from Germany created Mendeley Desktop in August 2008, and Elsevier acquired it in 2013. Share data, collaborate on research, and curate research information with this tool. When registering, you get 2GB of free data. Additional memory can be purchased separately. The title, author, and abstract of a paper are all displayed in one block without opening it.

You can have a glimpse of what the article is about while just skimming through the notes. This serves as the overview. What’s good about this software, you ask? It’s available as a plugin on MS Word! Crafting your paper has never been this effortless!


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Whatever field of study you’re pursuing, SkillShare is the perfect place to learn! Users learn how to write creatively, develop a website without any coding, use Shopify and Adobe to build a website, build your brand, master the principles of digital analytics, master the concepts of Microsoft Business Intelligence, create articles for children, and more.

You must register to access the videos, which are primarily free. SkillShare can also be downloaded from Google Play or the App Store.

Skillshare’s classes are divided into different categories like technology, business, lifestyle, and creativity. There are almost 30,000 classes currently. Skillshare indeed affords you endless opportunities, and you can find a lot of great high-quality courses, but you still have to be picky, as some are also of low quality. Anyone can also become a teacher at Skillshare.

Even though the low-quality classes are removed frequently, there may be occasions when you could still stumble across one. Hence, it’s essential to check reviews first. 

Semantic Scholar

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Researchers can explore Semantic Scholar for free to locate the latest publications, articles, and research for STEM programs. Aware of the thousands of scientific papers being published every day, it uses artificial intelligence to guide students through them. 

AI can drive a Semantic Scholar search to display relevant statistics and citations to determine each user’s influence and relevance. The database is not solely dedicated to physical sciences but also to social sciences, psychology, philosophy, and art.

Internet Public Library

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This online resource is as simple as it gets. This online database of resources has been classified by subject and provides access to almost every relevant subject in all schools, particularly graduate schools. Despite the lack of a search function, the website contains essays and case studies on various topics. Besides providing extensive information on various online degree programs, it also lists the numerous levels of degrees applicable to each program.

National Archives

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The National Archives is the best source of information for graduate students taking history and biography classes. Many significant historical records and documents are kept there, including the Constitution, census data and media copies from World War I and II. If you are working on a documentary or video essay related to any historical topics and many more, these references are helpful.

Descriptions of National Archives holdings are available through the National Archives Catalog, which includes listings for Washington, DC, regional archives, and Presidential Libraries. In its present state, the Catalog comprises 95% of records, each in its series. Thus, you can find basic information about records in the description, including the size and location. 

Duke Options

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The Duke Options tool can help grad students explore and choose from a wide range of professional development offerings and build a personalized plan for their professional development in graduate school. 

Duke Options is a tool specially designed for Ph.D. students to support their professional development as they pursue a career in academia. You can customize the planned activities from here by choosing your target competency and stage or academic level.

A link suggestion system on the portal corresponds to the activities in the roadmap, and it is personalized based on the student profile and career objectives. The Duke Options software is available to everyone, but those with NetID credentials can only save the roadmaps and plans.


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Harvard University and MIT founded edX, but it now boasts over 140 partner universities from all over the world, providing a vast repository of MOOC materials. Over 2500 courses and programs available on edX are perfect for graduate students interested in enhancing their learning – from liberal arts and humanities to sciences to even law and medicine.

The course also offers assignments and quizzes for tracking progress and understanding; some courses award certificates or micro master’s degrees. Learn how cutting-edge cognitive science underpins edX. 


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More than 200 schools and companies partner with Coursera, another popular MOOC site. Free courses are available here and include lectures, assignments, discussion boards, and more. Graduate students can earn specializations, professional certificates, and Master Track certificates for a minimal fee.

College courses delivered online through Coursera are widely praised. The system makes it easy to understand by offering clear syllabi, quizzes, and short essays.

Most courses usually require two hours of video lectures per week. Site navigation is easy, and the interface is straightforward. Quizzes and papers are graded on time, and professors promptly respond to prompt feedback despite most courses having tens of thousands of students enrolled.

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