Research tips

project management

Notes for scientific writing


Siobhon Egan


July 30, 2021

Some generic information for those new to research

On this page:

  1. General research resources
  2. Storage & back ups
  3. Research accounts
  4. Laboratory record keeping
  5. Data repositories
  6. Presentations

For information on writing see the writing page

General research resources

Hugh Kearns ThinkWell is an excellent source of information for researchers. He also runs workshops and regularly visits universities and institutions around Australia so keep an eye on his calendar. There is a wealth of resources and templates available for PhD students, supervisors and general research.



Some advice paraphrased from Monash University and thoughts of my own

The relationship with your supervisor(s) is central to the evolution of your research project. But not only that, they will help shape the type of researcher you become, so it’s important to choose carefully. Your supervisor’s role is to give you feedback on your work, provide support and guidance, and help you stay on track.

The best advice I can give to PhD students is that you are the manager of your project. Your supervisors are like the big boss. They’ll help you source the funds and find the tools to do the project, but you need to tell them what you need. It is a skill in itself and takes some time to learn (I am still learning), but it’s important to treat it as such as work on your supervisor-relationship.

Some helpful resources on supervisor relationship at Monash University site


Some useful resources and forms are available at iThinkwell. See tools for your supervisor and tools to give to your student. A nice blog also available that covers some relavent topics here.

Storage & back ups

This is a critical step when doing any type of research. If you are an undergraduate or post graduate research student it is likely that you will have to organise your own data storage/back up system. Universities will give staff (and sometimes post-graduates) access to a server where you can store your data on, however even then you may still like to have your own back up of things.

I strongly advise against relying solely on hard-drives. Altough these can be an enticing offer with their one-off payment and physical nature in my experience they are unreliable, not good for transport and you can run into issues with file types & different systems.

I recommend a cloud based storage system - ideally two if you can!

Usually they come with a monthly fee where you can pick the plan that suits your needs and upgrade/down easily when your storage needs change.

My recommendation is to pick a cloud based system you don’t have to think too much about. It maybe tempting to find an obsecure third party system for your computer but if you have to constantly manage it will become a hassel.

Research accounts

Here is a list of accounts that will be useful to create when starting out in research

  • ResearchGate - ResearchGate is the professional network for scientists and researchers. Over 17 million members from all over the world use it to share, discover, and discuss research. We’re guided by our mission to connect the world of science and make research open to all.
  • ORCID - ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier (an ORCID iD) that you own and control, and that distinguishes you from every other researcher. You can connect your iD with your professional information — affiliations, grants, publications, peer review, and more. You can use your iD to share your information with other systems, ensuring you get recognition for all your contributions, saving you time and hassle, and reducing the risk of errors.
  • Google Scholar - no explanation necessary right?
  • Scopus - Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books and conference proceedings. Delivering a comprehensive overview of the world’s research output in the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and arts and humanities, Scopus features smart tools to track, analyse and visualise research.
  • GitHub - for the coders…see info on GitHub here and link to my GitHub page here.

Laboratory record keeping

This bit of information is specific to those who undertake lab work. I have found myself moving away from the traditional paper based lab notebook towards a mixed model - making use of electronic lab books but still using a paper based method for day-to-day items.

There is lots of information out there on the pros and cons of different electronic lab books. There are paid versions and free versions and you’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons of each when deciding what will work for you. This following is my personal recommendations during my PhD lab work.


Since writing this Hive Bench has been discontinued. Recommend looking into SciNote.

My favourite Hive bench

Taken from the website:

Hivebench is a digital laboratory notebook that helps researchers prepare, conduct and analyze experiments, methods, and protocols in one place, saving them valuable time. Hivebench.has thousands of registered users, mostly biological laboratory researchers, and is positioned in the center of the research process. Hivebench is the only electronic laboratory notebook available on the web, on desktop (OSX) and mobile (iOS) devices.

After trying out a few different options I settled on Hive Bench for a few reasons:

  • Excellent iOS app (great for writing methods on desktop and instant syncing to your iPhone or iPad)
  • Free (at least for now)
  • Access to repository of protocols
  • Calander view - easy to keep track of what you did and when
  • Download your protocols and experiments in multiple formats - e.g. PDF, word doc etc.

Other options

There are lots of blogs and reviews on different electronic lab books: here and here for example.

A quick list of some other electronic lab books include:

Data repositories

review here


Free accounts include

  • 20 GB of free private space
  • Unlimited public space
  • Get DOI for your work

Mendeley Data

Dyrad Digital Repository

Open Science Framework


A good reference here by Rougier et al. 2014

A helpful blog by Entomology today

Leek lab group webpage - some helpful bits of info and links here. A guide for talks here.

Simplt statistics blog

Data science box


Better Poster by Mike Morrison, some templates here


Biorender - create professional scientific images in minutes.

phylopic - PhyloPic is an open database of silhouettes of organisms. All images are free, and anyone may submit images.

GIMP - The Free & Open Source Image Editor. This is the official website of the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP).

Inkscape - Inkscape is professional quality vector graphics software which runs on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows desktop computers.