Digital Research Tools: Papers Reviewed

The Education Techie reviews tech tools that can help students and teachers. This week, the Techie is taking a look at online research tools. Today's review: Papers.

papers personal research library

What Is It?

Serving as a 'personal library,' Papers is a program that enables document storage and sharing. You must download the program to your desktop in order to use it. Once you do this, you set up a profile that includes your area of research. The program explains that declaring a research area enables it to adapt to what your needs may be.

There are many research areas, like medicine, arts and literature, economics, education, law and linguistics, and there are sub-disciplines listed for each of these research areas. This wide range makes it likely that your research area will be included. If it isn't, you can manually add it. Adding a discipline also helps with the social networking and collaboration aspect of the program, called Papers Live. This feature helps you connect with others in your field.

papers screenshot manuscript creator

The library component of the software allows you to store all of the documents you have written, in addition to documents in progress and any notes, PDFs, images and webpages you might need for research purposes. Papers has web browser integration, allowing you to click a bookmark button to send online items to the program. You can also mark up documents within the program using the program's note-taking feature. There are other academically relevant features, like automatic citation and manuscript templates (pictured above).

What Are Its Pros and Cons?

Papers is only available for computers running Mac OS, and is available as a mobile app only for devices running the iOS. This makes its base of potential users far smaller than most of the other research tools I looked at for this series. No free version of the program is available, another potential drawback given many other research aids are low- or no-cost tools. Graduate and undergraduate students can receive a discount of 40 percent on the software, though. This might sweeten the deal for some who find this program appealing.

Another drawback of the program is that it isn't as friendly to users who use multiple devices as some of other research tools reviewed. For example, if you use a desktop at home, and use library computers at school, you may still need to email links and other research articles to yourself in order to put everything in Papers, unless you can install the software on your school computer.

For users who select Papers, though, the program has a lot of utility. Many applications on Mac - including Microsoft Word, the novel writer Scrivener, Safari and Mail - have integration with the program, allowing you to create citations and perform other tasks within compatible apps. In addition to offering a lot of integration, the program itself is cleanly designed, with a very user-friendly interface. For users who are a little less tech-savvy, there is plenty of support through the Papers help center.

This is the final review in a series about academic research tools. Previously, the Techie reviewed Dropbox, Mendeley, Zotero and Diigo. Stay tuned for more articles from the Education Techie!

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