Papers and referencing

I’ve been using the Mac version of a program called Papers2 (also available on Windows). I am slowly getting converted to the program, if you are looking for a better way to organise your academic reading I recommend you give it a try (you can download a trial version for 30 days). Here are some initial notes and tips:

  1. You import papers directly from your browser (nice, eh?) – or you can search various sources (eg scopus) from within the Papers application. But to connect via your university library, you need a  ‘federated search gateway‘ (the University of Bath has created a Scopus ID to allow this, contact me if you need to know more).
  2. The papers are (by default) hidden away in the Library folder – I don’t like hidden data files, they make backing up/manual access more difficult, so I changed the location.
  3. You can also ‘write and cite’ from within Word using (on the Mac) Ctrl-Ctrl (hit the Ctrl key twice). You can also select a citation style. What is really nice is that you can download and tweak an existing citation style. For example, I like Harvard style but I only want up to 2 authors cited, any more should appear as et al. In addition I do not want a Bath-specific URl appearing in my bibliograpy. I used  added a custom style to achieve this,  and as the tip said you literally drag the new style to your Papers application to add it (Papers will recognise .csl files as style files). However I did need to manually add the style/custom subfolder otherwise papers complained. I also made an error with my XML file – hint use sublime text editor and the wonderful W3C XML validator to check your file for errors.
  4. Finally, you can annotate (highlight, add notes etc) to PDF files of your references directly within papers (use ‘full screen’ mode for best effects). I have not yet found a good way of linking the annotated papers together – to be fair, I’m not really sure what I want here – maybe some simple way of embedding the annotated papers into a mindmap. What you can do is to create manual folders within the Papers application to group related papers. Sadly this folder arrangement is not reflected on your filesystem.

There are lots of other features of Papers but these are the ones I have used most. For me, the automatic and painless (and customisable) citation formatting is the ‘killer feature’ that keeps me coming back for more. Please do let me know what you think of Papers, or how it compares to others (EndNote, Mendeley, CiteULike)…

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