As a dissertation coach, I always tell students: don’t go it alone. While nothing takes the place of the support an academic professional can provide, there are multiple tools out there that can help get you to the finish line.

Listed here are 6 apps you could find invaluable when completing your dissertation.


One of the biggest challenges for dissertation writers is tracking citations correctly in an organized manner. As a matter of fact, the sheer number of doctoral-level dissertation citations can intimidate a good writer who just can’t manage that kind of minute detail. Personal research assistant Zotero to the rescue!

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use citation manager that helps you collect, organize, cite and share your research in a variety of ways. It also allows you to collect web-references with one click, and then easily create bibliographies.

Download Zotero here.

Otter.ai Transcription

Otter has been a gamechanger for so many writers, from journalists to novelists to poets to…well, dissertation writers like you. To call it a dictation device doesn’t give it nearly enough credit – it’s light years beyond a handheld recorder. You simply speak your ideas into Otter and it turns those midnight gems of wisdom into words immediately. No scribbling on Post-it notes is needed. You can also download recordings of your qualitative interviews into the app and Otter will provide accurate transcriptions for analysis.

A basic subscription to Otter is free but you may need a Pro subscription for heavier needs, which is under $10 per month.

Download Otter.ai here.


Undoubtedly you’ve heard of Grammarly by now (since their ads are basically everywhere). But what is Grammarly exactly?

Grammarly is a cloud-based typing assistant that reviews spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement and delivery mistakes. It also uses artificial intelligence to identify and search for appropriate replacements for any errors it highlights.

Grammarly also nabs typos when reaching out to academic colleagues via email. (Trust me: they notice misspellings and typos).

Download Grammarly. 


Trello serves as an efficient task management app, allowing you to organize your entire dissertation project clearly. And more importantly, Trello keeps you on task when it comes to dealing with individual chapters. (As I often suggest with students, attacking smaller tasks related to your dissertation on a daily basis keeps the project more manageable.)

Trello is simple-to-use and visually intuitive, meaning using it requires a minimal learning curve. Layout your project as a whole (via boards on Trello), then break it into bite-sized pieces (via cards on Trello). It will then serve as a flexible taskmaster.

Download Trello. 

Nothing – and I do mean nothing – can get you into more proverbial hot water with your dissertation process than plagiarism. Unfortunately, many students are “accidental plagiarists” meaning they copy and paste a passage and neglect to cite it.

While the fuller version of Scribbr comes with a fee attached, it’s well worth it because it exceeds its free counterparts.

Download Scribbr.


Always keep your dissertation project in multiple locations. As a dissertation coach, I’ve heard several horror stories of students losing their work because of a computer crash or hack. Nowadays, there’s a plethora of cloud-based apps that will keep your dissertation project safe.

But don’t just rely on the Cloud; go old-school and also back up on an external disk (a global wipeout hack is a “thing”). Use multiple apps for extra assurance. Heck, print your dissertation (since reading and reviewing a printed version of your work offers insight you simply won’t get from a screen).

Download Dropbox.

There are so many more tools that could be mentioned. Basically, if you have a need, there’s an app for it. We’ll circle back to this topic over time and keep you updated on new apps for your dissertation needs. Meanwhile, keep going! The end is in sight!