Chrome extensions to help research productivity

Why use Chrome extensions?

Let’s be honest. Much of modern epidemiological research will be online, whether it be cruising PubMed, journal websites, learning introductory concepts on Wikipedia, or just straight-up Googling. You might as well optimize Chrome to help you surf for research in the most productive way possible.

Here’s a list of Chrome extensions that I have used and like.

Read Aloud: A Text to Speech Voice Reader

Have you used a screen reader before? Try it out! It’s especially helpful getting through huge blocks of text. There isn’t a perfect text-to-speech (TTS) extension yet. The closest is Read Aloud. Highlight the text to be read, right-click, and select the Read Aloud option.

Zotero (my favorite reference manager)

If you haven’t already committed to a bloated, high-cost, litigious reference manager that rhymes with “spend smote”, I’d recommend checking out Zotero. It’s an excellent, free reference manager with a very slick Chrome plugin. Just navigate to the PubMed page for a journal article of interest and click the Zotero Chrome extension’s button (you’ll need to have the Zotero desktop app open at the same time) and it’ll pull the full reference AND PDF if it’s available using Unpaywall.

Get Zotero here and the Chrome extension here.

Unpaywall: Direct linkage to freely-available PDFs for manuscripts

Unpaywall is brilliant. So brilliant, it’s integrated into Zotero. It indexes legal, university- and government-hosted PDFs for journal articles. If you’re on a journal’s website, you’ll see a grey or green lock appear on the right-hand side. If it’s green, just click on the lock and it’ll download the PDF from wherever it’s hosted. I bat about a 50% average of getting paywalled PDFs using Unpaywall.

EZProxy Redirect

UVM uses EZProxy to provide off-campus access to subscribed journals. If I wound up on a paywalled journal article that UVM has access to, there was a multi-step process of navigating to the library site, logging in through the proxy, and searching for the journal.

EZProxy Redirect automates that whole process. While you’re on a paywalled article’s site, just hit the button and it’ll bring you to the proxy access login then bounce you back to the article page with full access. It’s super easy. You just need to configure your institution once by right clicking on the icon and clicking Options. Note, this extension only works if your institution uses EZProxy. You can check the EZProxy database to see if your institution uses it.

Right-Click Search PubMed

Want to do a text search in PubMed? Just highlight the text, right-click, and select the “Search Pubmed” option. This extension simplifies searches for text.