Praise for Papers

When I blogged about Endnote last month, I suggested that I might come back with a review of Papers once I’d registered for my free 30-day trial.

Well, the trial period is nearly over and the verdict is in: in this researcher’s humble opinion, Papers is an excellent organizational tool at a price (£15/$25 after applying the 40% student discount) that even the most destitute of PhD students can afford.

**I should note at this point that Papers is only available for macs **

The idea behind Papers is simple. As researchers, we download hundreds of journal articles and other documents as pdfs. But then what?

Sometimes we print them out to make notes as we read, inevitably resulting in piles of papers that, like Jack’s beanstalk, grow to amazing heights. Even if you are a meticulous filer, finding a journal article months or years after first printing it out can prove surprisingly difficult.

The alternative to printing articles is to read them on your computer. This avoids the paper skyscraper phenomenon, but prevents you from making notes on the articles as you read. Moreover, locating the article at a later date can still be headache inducing as you search through a maze of virtual files and folders.

Papers solves both of these problems by providing a single database for filing, organizing and searching your pdf library. There is even a feature that allows you to make notes as you read that are then saved with the article for future reference.

Importing pdfs to the database is a snap: simply drag the files to the Papers library and you’re done. The Papers software also allows you to import bibliographic information from Project Muse, JSTOR, Web of Science and Google Scholar (among others article databases), a huge time saver compared to entering all of the information manually.

According to the Help Center, it is possible to use Papers in combination with Endnote and Word for seamless reference management. I haven’t tried this yet, so can’t vouch with how well it works. (And, to be completely honest, I’m so fed up with Endnote that it is unlikely that I ever will.) However, if the other features of Papers provide any indication, I expect that this probably works quite well.

So, if you are just starting out on your PhD, I would highly recommend getting started with Papers now to avoid the jungle of printouts/pdfs that will surely begin to take over your laptop, office, and/or living room if left untended.

Or if, like me, you are struggling to keep the hundreds of articles you already have under control, initially organising them in Papers may take some time but is well worth the effort. Not only is my pdf library on the way to being impeccably organised, it is now fully portable and can come with me to the Federated States of Micronesia (wishful thinking) or wherever that next research project might be.

For additional information about Papers, visit:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s