Category Archive: Fourth Year

Best Books for the Emergency Medicine Rotation


This post is part of our series on the best books and resources to help you perform well on your third year rotations and shelf exams. Also check out our lists for clerkships in Internal MedicineFamily MedicineOB/GYNGeneral SurgeryNeurologyPsychiatryPediatrics, and Emergency Medicine. You can also check out our complete list of "Best Books" lists for medical students here

Background: Clerkship Grades

At the beginning of each of these clerkship lists there are a few things I must say. First, your grade on clinical rotations will depend on both your clinical performance and your performance on a shelf exam at the end of the rotation. While it is true that how you work with your teams and patients will play into your evaluation, there is no denying that your knowledge of the subject matter is, by far, the most important part of your final grade because it directly affects both of these two areas of evaluation. As a resident, I currently find myself filling out medical student evaluations every week. There are very few 'incredible' medical students and very few 'terrible' medical students. The vast majority of you (~95%) fit into the "good and easy to work with" group; the only thing you have to set you apart from others is your knowledge base. You have no alternative but to study! First Aid for the Wards is a great resource to understand the dynamics of your clinical rotations, I highly recommend it.

Essential Resources

The resources I will describe in the clerkship lists are books and online question banks. From the onset let me point out two indespesible resources that I will not list for each rotation individually.

  • First, I consider a great online question bank essential. Both Kaplan and USMLE World are very good products. I highly recommend purchasing a one year subscription to one of these USMLE Step 2 question banks. As you complete your third year rotations, these question banks will prepare you for 1- your clinical duties, 2- your rotation shelf exam, and 3- the USMLE Step 2 during your fourth year.  
  • Second, online review materials (e.g. Medscape, UpToDate, etc.) are essential resources to prepare for your patients in the hospital. The books and question banks can never provide the type of in-depth detail about disease processes that you will need to learn how to properly take care of your specific patients. To be a great medical student, you must prepare more profoundly for the diseases you are encountering personally in the hospital.

Book Series for Third Year

Medical students are not all made the same; we are all very different learners. There are a number of companies producing review materials for third year medical students, each with a slightly different focus. Each of these companies produce a different book for each clerkship. Interestingly, some companies' books are rated higher in some clerkships than others. If you find a product that works for you, consider sticking with it during your third year even if that product is not 'rated' as highly for a specific clerkship. Below are a few of the review products and their features.

  1. The Case Files Series: A unique teaching model; the Case Files series introduces a number of important clinical cases and follows them up with clinical pearls and important concepts. For students who need vivid clinical situations to remember factoids and concepts, this is a great series. (Case Files Emergency Medicine)
  2. The PreTest Series: The PreTest series is a classic question bank format with questions and detailed explanations. As I previously mentioned, I believe there is no substitute for a great question bank. While an online resource (USMLE World or Kaplan) can be more robust and mobile, a good question book is still a great option. The PreTest series produces a couple fantastic question banks. (PreTest Emergency Medicine).
  3. The BluePrints Series: The BluePrints series has a beautiful format that is very easy to read. The text is laid out in a bulleted lists, but with more details and descriptions than the First Aid series with which most students are familiar. I think very highly of these review books. (Blueprints Emergency Medicine).
  4. First Aid Clerkship Series: The First Aid series well known to most students also produces review books for third year clerkships. The content is similar to what students are used to, bulleted lists of high yield information. While I highly recommend many of the First Aid review books for USMLE Step preparation, the books are not quite as widely read and recommended for clerkships. (First Aid Emergency Medicine).

Best Books for Emergency Medicine Rotation

So, we can agree that books are not sufficient for success on your clerkships, but they are still an incredible resource that you should tap into. Let's review the best books and resources for your General Surgery rotation. These lists come from both my experience and also from one medical school's annual survey of its 250 graduating medical students who try to detail which resources were the most useful on their rotations.

Most medical students will complete their Emergency Medicine clerkship in their fourth year, which means you will be well trained and there will be much expected of you. On the wards and operating rooms of your third year of medical school you rarely encountered medical emergencies; these are now the most important thing. While you know a lot about medicine now, you don't know much about the acute treatment of medical emergencies. When you are in the ED, you must change your mindset; you are no longer trying to cure disease, you are trying to stabilize patients so they can be transferred safely to the wards. The best way to change this mindset is to read clinical scenarios that put you in these situations. Also, don't forget to touch up on your EKG interpretation (Rapid Interpretation of EKG's), which will be highly relevant tot his rotation.


1. Emergency Medicine Secrets:

The most well-respected text by medical students for the Emergency Medicine clerkship; Secrets provides high yield bulleted lists and clinical scenarios. I highly recommend this book.


2. Case Files Emergency Medicine:

Case Files is a great addition when preparing for the Emergency Department and the EM shelf exam. By now, many of you know this series well and know what to expect from this well-regarded series of clinical scenarios.

3. An Introduction to Clinical Emergency Medicine:

A great introduction to clinical EM, this book is often provided to medical students. This would also be a great reference in a general practice clinic, so you will likely refer to it over and over again even if you are not going into emergency medicine.


4. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine Just the Facts:

The Tintinalli name is well known in Emergency Medicine. This book is small text made specifically for the EM clerkship. It has a clean format and is well received by most medical students. 


Best Books for USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS)

This list is part of a series of articles about the best books for medical students. Click on the Med School Books Main Page to see other lists including the best books for each year in medical school, the best books for each clinical rotation, and the best books for USMLE Steps 1, 2, and 3.

As many of you know, the pass rate for USMLE Step 2 CS is very high, usually 97% or 98% for first-time test takers from the USA. Many will take that to mean that they don't need to study, but I think it means something slightly different. Here is a 2% that you really don't want to be part of! Studying for Step 2 CS is really not difficult, you already know the material, you just have to learn about the test. I don't think you need to spend much time studying, but reading one or two review books will prepare you in three ways 

  1. what the test will be like,
  2. what you will be tested on (it's NOT just the medical content!)
  3. a review of the most commonly tested cases. 

I will list the two most widely used books and highlight some subtle differences. You really only need one of these. Good Luck.

  • Updated June 2015

1. First Aid for Step 2 CS:

This book will prepare you for what to expect in the testing center. I felt much more comfortable just know what was going to happen, step by step, after reading this book.I think this is the strength of this book, it lays out the nature of the exam very well. There is also a good review of some of the highest yield cases you might encounter during the clinical skills test. This book prepares students very well for the Integrated Clinical Encounter (ICE) portion of the exam. For most people, reading through this book one time would be sufficient prior to taking the USMLE Step 2 CS.


2. Kaplan USMLE Step 2 CS Core Cases:

Like the First Aid book, Kaplan's USMLE Step 2 CS book is a great resource and one quick read through it would be sufficient for most students. The one thing that Kaplan's book has is a better explanation of how to act during the exam so you can maximize Communication and Interpretation Skills (CIS) portion of the exam. Browse the format of each book, you probably just need to choose one.


When should I schedule USMLE Step 2?


One of the important questions all medical students have to answer in their fourth year of medical school is when to take the USMLE Step 2 exams. The answer to this question depends on each student's individual circumstances. Let me list a few pointers that might help you in making your decision. At the onset let me state that I do not know of a good reason to not release your scores to residency programs. Everyone should release scores, to do otherwise suggests you are hiding something. If you don't want your scores to be known by potential residencies, you simply need to schedule the test after your information is sent to programs, this is a much better alternative. 

After you have decided on a time to take the test, check out my list of the best resources to study for Step 2 CK.

  • The only nationwide deadline facing medical students is that prior to obtaining a license and starting internships and residencies, students will have to pass the USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS. So all medical students will have to pass these exams before July 1st after their fourth year. However, most medical schools have their own deadlines. If your school requires both Step 2 exams to be done before January 1st of your fourth year, you need to plan accordingly.
  • The next question you must answer is whether or not you need your Step 2 CK score to be available when you are applying for residency. There are two situations where this might be the case. If you are applying to a competitive residency and your Step 1 score is not impressive, most people recommend doing everything you can to obtain a great Step 2 CK score to send to residency programs. Alternatively, no matter what residency you are applying to, if your Step 1 score is below the national average (usually ~218 or below), most people recommend sending a Step 2 CK score to potential residency programs so they know you have passed the boards and will be eligible to start residency on time. If you fit into either of these situations, you should take Step 2 CK before the end of September in order to have the score available during residency application.
  • If you have a deadline from your school but you do not need to send a Step 2 CK score report to your potential residency programs, there are still some scheduling conflicts to consider. Students applying to early match residencies or other competitive residencies will spend most of the months of November and December interviewing. Available interview dates in these situations are usually sparse and difficult to manage. The last thing you want is to miss the only available interview date at a top choice residency because you have Step 2 CK or Step 2 CS scheduled the same day. If you can move your Step 2 dates earlier or later, I would recommend doing that. If you have a January 1st deadline like many schools but will be interviewing in November/December, consider taking your Step 2 exams in the September/October time period.
  • It is important to remember that Step 2 CS is not a very important exam for most fourth year medical students. The vast majority of students pass the exam and there is no numeric score released to students and residency programs. Therefore, it is in your best interest to simply schedule this exam when it interferes the least with your interviewing and clinical rotations.
  • If you are trying to cram your Step 2 CS or Step 2 CK in December before a deadline, beware of unpredictable winter weather. I have known a number of students who missed clinical duties or interviews as they were stuck in the airport after the Step 2 CS exam. Many of you will be traveling to cities prone to snowfall (Chicago, Philadelphia), so bear that in mind when scheduling.

If you have any other advice for the four year students reading this, please post below. Good luck to everyone and don't forget to check out my list of the best books for Step 2. 

Top Ten Books for the USMLE Step 2 CK Exam

This list is part of a series of articles about the best books for medical students. Click on the Med School Books Main Page to see other lists including the best books for each year in medical school, the best books for each clinical rotation, and the best books for USMLE Steps 1, 2, and 3.

There is a lot of weight placed on the USMLE Step 1 exam as it has a significant effect on how competitive you are as a residency candidate. I submit to you that the UMSLE Step 2 CK is far more important in the long run because it will test you on things that are actually relevant to your future practice and your patients. You take Step 1 for yourself, you take Step 2 for your patients. This is stuff that we all just need to know. So, don't worry about score and just worry about the material, your patients will be greatful.  Below is a list of the books I found most helpful for USMLE Step 2 CK. 

  • Updated May 2015

1. First Aid for Step 2 CK:

There are a few brands that have never let me down in USMLE test preparation: First Aid, Kaplan, and USMLE World. I swear by First Aid for Step 1, and I found First Aid for Step 2 to be nearly as concise and comprehensive. A great resource


2. USMLE Step 2 Secrets:

This is a fantastic summary book that does not take long to read. Rather than a list of all the facts, like First Aid give you, Secrets gives the reader a great review of high yield information. This would be a great book to read the week or two before the exam to help you pick up a number of extra nuggets.


3. Crush Step 2:

Crush Step 2 is written by the same author as USMLE Step 2 Secrets (#2). The content of the two books is mostly the same. Crush Step 2 is written in prose and paragraphs rather than in clinical scenarios and question format. Decide which format you prefer, because you certainly wouldn't need both books.


4. Master the Boards, USMLE Step 2 CK:

This book induces a borderline personality disorder. Some students love it, some students hate it. The book does not attempt to be a complete review, it tries to hit hard only the high yield points. Students who are looking for a more complete review of the information should probably not purchase this book.


5. Step-Up to Medicine:

This is a tried and true book for many aspects of the second half of medical school. A great book for many rotations and shelf exams, it is also a fantastic preparation USMLE Step 2 CK. Much of this board exam will rely on basic internal medicine knowledge. The book is also great for Step 3, so you can kill two birds with one stone. 


6. Kaplan USMLE Step 2 Qbook:

If you frequent this website, you know that I believe STRONGLY that the best way to prepare for a board exam made up of hundreds of questions is to do thousands of questions. I really like both Kaplan's online QBank as well as USMLE World's online QBank. However, you are not always at a computer and you will find that question books are a nice rest from the screen. Kaplan's Step 2 Qbooks one of the best on the market.

7. First Aid Cases, USMLE Step 2:

Like Kaplan's Step 2 Qbook (#6), the First Aid company has also produced some great print question banks. The 'Cases" book is a case-based approach with great review questions. In addition, they also publish First Aid Q&A for the USMLE Step 2 CK which rivals Kaplan's Step 2 Qbook as the best print question book on the market.

8. Kaplan USMLE Step 2 Lecture Notes:

Recently, Kaplan has allowed students to purchase their complete Lecture Notes for board exams, including these Step 2 notes, without actually taking their in-person classes. This was not always the case. I have used these texts and I was very impressed. Altogether these review books are very long and very expensive. However, they come from a company that knows very well how to get students good exam scores.


9. Step-Up to USMLE Step 2:

It may seem counter-intuitive, but I prefer Step-Up to Medicine (#5) as a Step 2 study resource to the book that Step-Up wrote specifically for Step 2. I used the second edition of Step-Up to USMLE Step 2 and it was good, but from what I am hearing the third edition has a poor layout and not well updated. 


10. Travel Book du jour:

You need to study for Step 2, it will help you be a better intern and resident. However, you are probably a fourth year student getting ready to fly around the country. You may not ever travel this much in this short of a time. Here is some unsolicited advice, take an hour to enjoy the city you are in…so see some of the stuff in this book.


Spotlight Interview: Why Did You Choose Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)?




A Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation PM&R) Resident’s Perspective: From an interview with a PM&R resident from Ohio.. 

Part of an interview series entitled, "Specialty Spotlights", which asks medical students' most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.


  • What attracted you to physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R)?

I initially explored PM&R because I always had an interest in neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, and I knew that physiatrists took care of patients with stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and other disorders of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. During my first rotation in PM&R was when I learned that physiatrists primary focus in helping their patients is by improving function. This focus on function is ultimately what attracted me to PM&R, because enabling patients with different abilities to function can substantially affect quality of life. Another aspect of PM&R that attracted me to the specialty was working with a multidisciplinary team to provide care. 


  • Describe a physiatrist's typical work day?

The workday of a typical physiatrist is quite regular, usually from about 8am to 5pm, but this can vary somewhat depending on your type of practice. There are many physiatrists who only do outpatient clinic, while others do both inpatient and outpatient. 


  • What type of lifestyle can a physiatrist expect?  

Lifestyle of a physiatrist can be somewhat variable depending on practice setup and location, but overall is considered to be well balanced relative to other specialties in medicine. We also have a high job satisfaction. PM&R is a very family friendly field, with plenty of free time and family time. Most physiatrists do not work nights, but there is some call coverage for those with inpatient duties. On average, call is usually about one week and one weekend per month, but can be less frequent depending on size of the department. Primary (first) call at large hospitals is most often covered by residents and fellows, and the attending is only called when needed. Call does usually include rounding on the weekend, which is usually brief.


  • What is the potential salary of a physiatrist?

The average salary of a physiatrist is around $180,000-190,000. 


  • What is the job market like for PM&R?

The job market for physiatrists is excellent both immediately following completion of residency as well as after advanced fellowship training


  • What can you tell us about PM&R subspecialties?

Another advantage to training in PM&R is that there are many options for subspecialty training. PM&R residents can pursue fellowship in many areas including the following: Interventional Pain/Spine, Sports Medicine, Cancer Rehabilitation, Stroke Rehabilitation, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, Neuromuscular Medicine/EMG, Informatics and Research. Most of the clinical fellowships are 1 year of additional training, and Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine can be 1 year for those who completed a combined residency and 2 years for those who completed a general PM&R residency 


  • What are the potential downsides of PM&R that students should be aware of?

Although I did not consider salary when making my career decisions, it is an important consideration for students to think about as many of us have student loan debt and families to provide for. One potential downside of PM&R that students should be aware of is reimbursement changes for procedures, particularly electrodiagnostic testing. The salary I mentioned earlier is at or just below the average for all physicians.


  • What else would you tell medical students who are considering PM&R?

I highly recommend considering a career in PM&R. It is a fairly small field of medicine but it is growing and evolving, with so many exciting possibilities particularly with advances in technology. Being a physiatrist is incredibly rewarding. It is difficult to describe what it feels like when you see someone who had a stroke, spinal cord injury, or amputation walk again, but it’s pretty awesome to be a part of the team making that happen 


Editor's Note: For more help choosing a specialty in medicine, I highly recommend one or both of these two great books. I found both very useful.


Picmonic: A Cursory Review

When I heard about Picmonic, I actually let out a little yelp of excitement and anger. Excitement because I wish I had such a tool while I was in the first and second year of medical school; anger because I thought about building just such a company about a hundred times but never went through with it. Picmonic was developed too late for my first years of medical school, but I keep hearing great things about it from our medical students. Because of all the buzz, I recently downloaded their trial software to test it out and I am impressed. The idea behind Picmonic is to develop absurd images in order to help memorize difficult to understand concepts. Each Picmonic image contains a number of important pearls that should be memorized. Picmonic walks the learner through the image to highlight each pictoral 'mnemonic'. The staff at Picmonic were kind enough to send us their image for clindamycin [shown below]. In this way, any time a student is placed in a situation (in the hospital or on an exam) where he/she must remember these important concepts, the absurd image will pop right into their head, increasing memory recall.


Increased memory retention using absurd images is actually a well-known phenomenon in teaching organizations. In fact, the best memorizers in the world often use abstract and absurd imagery to memorize lists of random words and numbers. The developers at Picmonic openly state that their software increases memory retention by "300%" and may increase scores on exams by "50%". These numbers seem a bit outrageous, but they recently published their results in a peer reviewed journal (pub med link) and they seem to have some evidence to support their claims. Thousands of medical students are using their software and I have never heard anyone unhappy with the purchase. Some use it far more than others, but everyone who purchases the resource appears to be quite happy. Of course, the utility of this type of device is likely more useful to those students who are more visual, but its effect on memory retention is likely to be universal.

If you haven't tried it out, go to their website,, and download their free trial. This is a great resource.

FREIDA: A Great Resource when Applying to Residency

Applying to residency is equally exciting as it is stressful. I found myself searching for any information I could find about different programs and what made each program different.  During my hours of searching I found that the AMA’s site, FREIDA ONLINE, was one of the most useful resources.FREIDA is an online database of all ACGME regulated residency and fellowship training programs.  The FREIDA database is searchable by specialty or by state.  The amount of information available for each program is truly staggering, here is just a short list of some of the information you can find out about each training program:


  • Program director name and contact information
  • Length of the program
  • Institution and hospital affiliations
  • Size of the residency
  • Number of applicants interviewed
  • Number of faculty
  • Average work hours
  • Weeks of call per year
  • Amount of didactic lecture
  • Salary information
  • Vacation weeks
  • Benefits information

Now that I know the inner workings of my residency, I looked back at the FREIDA profile to see if the information is correct, and I can vouch for the database, it is spot on.  They provide an analysis of the averages of many of those statistics for each specialty. So, you can compare the ‘hours worked in a week’ of a program you are interested in with the national average. Click here to access the ‘training statistics’.

Best Books for Medical School: Fourth Year

This list is part of a series of articles about the best books for medical students. Click on the Med School Books Main Page to see other lists including the best books for each year in medical school, the best books for each clinical rotation, and the best books for USMLE Steps 1, 2, and 3. 

Look, I get it. You are a fourth year student now and you are tired of reading textbooks. Let me suggest just a few books that every fourth year should read.  Remember, you are about to apply for, interview for, and rank your prospective residency programs: i.e. the most important training step in your career.  Once those interview are over, kick back with a Frommer's Travel Guide and watch "Like an M4".  Live it up while you can.

  • Updated April 2015

First Aid for the Match:

The 'First Aid' series is usually at the top of my lists they again deserve that honor for 4th year students. First Aid for the Match is a must read for anyone preparing your residency application, going on interviews, ranking programs, and getting ready for the match. You really need to know how it all works or you might hurt your chances of matching. Read this book.

The Successful Match:

This book is written in a 'Self-Help' format but contains loads of great information. It is highly recommended by nearly all of its readers and is ranked on the top of most "How To Match" resource lists. You aren't doing much else this year!  Read it and you will not be disappointed.

The Residency Interview: How to Make the Best Possible Impression:

Dr. Freeman's book is well known to many 4th year medical students. She has a wise and logical approach to making a good impression. The truth is, most of us are not actually very good at putting our best foot forward. Take some time (something you don't lack during the 4th year!) and read through this book. At the very least, it will help you enter your interviews with more confidence.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty:

Are you a fourth year and still undecided?  I know the feeling; it is terrible. Along with the Careers in Medicine website, this book was very helpful and influential in my decision making process. It helps readers decide what is most important to them and helps delineate what makes different specialties unique.

Pocket Medicine:

If you have not already purchased this resource (or a similar one that fits in your white coat) you really ought to find one.  During your sub-internship months you will all of the sudden have some real responsibility and you will need to look up vital information on the fly. Pocket Medicine is a great resource to quickly read about the next admission you are picking up so you can prepare yourself.


Internet based paging system

If you need to send numeric or text pages to medical students, residents, or attendings Telepage Web Pager is the best website. Most hospitals have a built in method to text page anyone with a hospital affiliation. However, this web based paging system allows you to page anything you want to any pager in the country.  Try it, it’s free!

The Best Free Software For Students

If you are anything like me, you will do anything to avoid paying thousands of dollars for the next Adobe product.  After ten years of higher education (and at least 4 to go!) I have tested hundreds of software packages; in this post I will list the best free and open source programs I have found.  Learn to love open source software…and you will soon learn how to spend those thousands of dollars you saved!  My software list will certainly not be a comprehensive list of all the great open source programs. For a complete list of free software programs I have three recommendations.

  • The best resource is which is a nearly complete collection of all reputable free software.
  • is a free website that lists hundreds of free software packages by category
  • is a compilation of hundreds of free and open source software programs that is easily searchable.



Google Chrome is a no-nonsense, super fast web browser.  Here is just one reference proving Chrome's speed superiority (from For mac users, Safari is a distant second.  While I used to enjoy Firefox, it takes nearly twice as long to load web pages than Chrome.  We all know how terrible Internet Explorer is.



OpenOffice is a well known counterpart to Microsoft Office.  The free software includes a fully capable word processor, a presentation organizer, and a fully loaded spreadsheet tool.  In essence, you get Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for free.  An added bonus, you can save any file in OpenOffice format OR in the corresponding Microsoft format so there will never be compatibility issues.



My love for Google products will now show through.  Google Calendar is simple and highly effective.  You can merge nearly all online calendars into your Google calendar account. You can send yourself reminders using email, phone call, or text message. You can list recurring events in any imaginable patter (e.g. same date each year, 2nd Saturday of March each year, etc.)



1. Gimp is a professional image editor with a student's pricetag.  This free program comes with nearly all the bells and whistles you would find in the newest version of Adobe Photoshop.  The user interface is not idea and takes some getting used to. However, with a price tag of $0 this is a great piece of software.


2. I have heard great things about Paint.Net.  I must admit, I have never used it because I have spent so much time using Gimp that I don't need anything else.  However, it is worth a try if you are looking for more free graphic editing options.



Audacity is a free, open-source program that facilitates the recording and editing of all audio and sound files.  I often use it to make my own 'radio edited' song versions.



Foxit Reader is far better than the free Adobe Reader. It requires far less resources when it is running on your computer, and it provides free mark-up tools including text editing, highlighting, commenting, and basic geometric shapes.



CutePDF Writer is the free version of CutePDFs vast line of products. The free writer allows you to convert any image, document, or screen shot to a PDF.  I use this product all the time. I save documents as PDFs and place them on my thumb drive rather than printing everything out.



There are actually quite a few free antivirus options out there. Many of the web giants (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc) have their own free antivirus software. My personal favorite is Avast!, which the program that comes with GooglePak.  Just be sure you click on the FREE version, as they have other options.


PERSONAL FINANCE allows users to track all bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investments in one place. The software is similar to costly software like Quicken, but is free and is web-based: which means you can check your information on any computer, any time.




The best resource in this category, I must admit, is not free. EndNote is a must-have resource for research and reports. It is user friendly and will save you hours of time by automatically plugging in your references and bibliography. There are a number of free programs that try to mimic EndNote's features. Some are good, but after trying them I ended up purchasing a student edition of EndNote because it is so much better.  Here is a list of free bibliography and reference managers. Or you can check out the wikipedia page which compares all reference managers, free and non-free.



R (The R Project for Statistical Computation) is a free text-based statistical computational software program.  It is not for the feint-hearted. The learning curve is steep, but once mastered, this free software provides all the tools to run any statistical analysis, graph, or plot.



Not all LaTeX editors are created equal.  WinEdt is a clean editor without the frills of other programs. I have used this software for 5 years and I have never had even one problem (something that can NOT be said about most LaTeX editors!)  The free version will frequently ask the operator to purchase the full version, but it is never required.



XMind assists individuals and teams in keeping track of ideas and goals. If you have never used mind-mapping software, you need to start. XMind creates the prettiest visual map, but there are other options that work just as well. FreeMind is another great one.



Did I forget something? If you know of more great, open source software please leave a comment.

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