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Qiqqa Makes Research Fun and Easy

posted Aug 11, 2010, 2:55 PM by Danny Eusebio   [ updated Aug 26, 2010, 8:45 AM ]
If there is one Swiss army knife that every college student needs, this one is it. Qiqqa, a research tool, makes writing papers a breeze. I have never seen a tool out there like this and I definitely wish it was around while I was in school. However, you're in luck. Qiqqa is currently offering its alpha version for free to users and it's said that a free version will remain available for users upon release. In this article, I'll break down some of the current features of Qiqqa and let you know if it's really worth your time.



Organization

An image of the user interface in QiqqaEverybody knows that writing a research paper can be a major pain when you're unorganized. However, Qiqqa makes quick work of that by 
allowing you to organize all the PDF's that you find online. Now, you might be wondering, why this is useful. Well, Qiqqa organizes all your documents into a database where it can actually make them searchable. Unfortunately, most PDFs aren't text searchable, but Qiqqa will use a featured tool called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to scan and images searchable.

The ability to search several documents at once or even a plethora will save you time. This gives you, the researcher, the ability to skim and download documents on the fly and organize them into a database to sift through later. I found this significant in any research tool. There are some slight cons for this great feature, however.

OCR can take a long time to complete. I had a handful of old research documents that I threw into Qiqqa expecting them to OCR on the fly, but that wasn't the case. Whether the final version will address the time it takes for this process to run, you could expect spending hours OCRing files based on your computers speed.

I ran the test on my old laptop running an Intel Core 2 Duo 2Ghz processor. With about 900 pages to OCR, it was still not done after 10 hours. On the other hand, I ran the same test using my newer Intel Quad Core 2.33 Ghz computer and there were definite differences. The OCR process sped right through in a few hours. Although this tool will work well on a laptop, make sure to give OCR plenty of time to run its program.

Meta-Data

Qiqqa makes organizing your meta-data a breeze with its intuitive ribbon that appears when you open a PDF. You're given information about the Title, Author, Year, Tag, and other great features like Ratings and Reading Stage. But that's not all, to help populate the meta-data faster, you can use the BibTex feature which searches the title of the document on Google Scholar to track down meta-data. The designer claims this works most of the time, but I found it worked "sometimes." Whether it appears in Google Scholar or not will depend on where you found the document in the first place. I'm sure if more databases are used, this feature will excel.

(Click to View Full Size)

Stay Sync with the Cloud

If you start using multiple computers to do your research, you'd want that meta-data and documents almost anywhere. Well, Qiqqa has a web sync feature which allows you to sync meta-data and documents across multiple computers. I haven't tried this feature, but it's a great addition to an already great tool.


Organizing Chunks of Information

While you're skimming through research documents, you may find chunks that can be useful to run back to. Sometimes trying to highlight and mark information on PDF readers can be very difficult. You might even find yourself writing things down by hand. This process takes a lot of time. Luckily, Qiqqa gives you the ability to highlight images and text while you research. Just simply using the annotation tool in segments you want to review later will give you the option to aggregate them later by generating a report with all the sections you selected.

Brainstorming 

To get started on your research, Qiqqa even adds a somewhat primitive brainstorm tool that allows you to make simple charts to help your ideas flow. It's simple enough, yet you have it at your disposal.


Features Lacking

  1. I wish there was some way to filter documents by folders instead of tags. I'd like to be able to clump a set of research documents into one project without having to include research documents in other topic areas.
  2. The auto-table of contents feature still needs some work as some documents aren't recognized properly in this area. However, this isn't a deal breaker.
  3. It might be useful to enable sharing opportunities for researchers who are working with others. I'm sure this feature will probably be added in the future.

Take a Closer Look

Qiqqa Overview

Here's a video they have on their website giving you a quick overview.

Conclusion 

There are still a handful of features I did not get to in Qiqqa and I leave that for you to explore. In the meantime, if you're looking for a great research tool that organizes information and speeds up the process, then Qiqqa is the tool for you. Although still in its infancy, Qiqqa feels like an almost finished product you could feel safe using right now. So stop by www.qiqqa.com and give this program a try.

Qiqqa Makes Research Fun and Easy

Qiqqa Makes Research Fun and Easy