Tools of the Tirade: new blog series on affordable PhD essentials!

Over the past year of doctoral studies at Durham University, and three years of seminary prior to that, I have been honing my skills in writing, reading, note-taking (essential!), and database management (boring but critical for bibliographies). If you are somebody who loves to read and write, research and study, then this new blog series is for you.

Even if you’re not doing a PhD you’ll find this series useful, especially if you are in seminary or doing an MA in some area of the humanities.

My area of specialization is Biblical Studies, which is why you will see me discussing ‘tools’ that might not pertain to you, if say you are studying philosophy or English Lit. Nevertheless, there will be something in here for you as well, especially when it comes to the more general gear for writing and notetaking.

The motivation for this blog has come about due to many requests over the years from other students asking for advice on ‘how do you …’ or ‘what do you use to do …’ or ‘which … is the best?’ and many more like it. Here’s my chance to answer these questions and more, and to offer links to the actual products on Amazon.

Disclaimer: Yes, I do receive a commission if you purchase after following the link, but just remember how much time I am saving you. I’d done the hours upon hours of research into these products, and it won’t cost you anything extra to follow my advice.

Here are some of the things I intend to cover over the next few months, with a particular focus on how to save money and get the gear you need to succeed!

fountain pen

  • Writing: what writing instruments (pens, etc) are the best for taking notes? Which work best on fine bible paper? How can I actually afford a nice fountain pen? What type of journal works best for compactness, portability, and simply remembering where I jotted something down?


  • Languages: what resources are you using in order to learn German, French, and Latin? What has helped you the most in your study, and growth in, Greek and Hebrew?


  • Bibles: what should a prospective PhD student look for in an English translation? Should they even use one? What Bible do you use primarily and why (NRSV, ESV, NLT, …)? Do you use different Bibles for different purposes?


  • Bible Software: what is the best Bible software and WHY? (everybody wants to know the answer to this!) If you could only buy one, which would it be and why? Should a biblical studies student have all three, like some people suggest?


  • Other Software: should I use Word, OpenOffice, Mellel, what? Which bibliographic software is best, Zotero, Bookends, etc?

Okay, so that’s just sampling. I’m sure other ideas will pop up as I think of them. I hope you’re looking forward to this as much as I am!

If you have any question or suggestions you would like to see answered, or a product you would like reviewed, just send me an email or reply to this post and I’ll get on it!


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