The era of "cloud reference managers"?

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Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:22 am

The era of "cloud reference managers"?

Post by stereotactic » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:21 am

Over the past few days, as part of the weekend project, I decided to check out the other reference managers. Paperpile, Readcube and Mendeley. It is not a critique but it is something that I need for a long time. (I wouldn't recommend Zotero).
My primary motivation was to see how browser extension works- it integrates well with PubMed and pushing the reference, hence becomes a one click affair. I prefer to use the desktop browser over Bookends browser because I have multiple tabs opened up checking and cross referencing everything.

Paperpile and Readcubes have messed up UI as far as reading and annotating PDF's is concerned. Papaerpile depends on another external third party service that's still under development. My experience was bad. Readcubes has been there for longer but I wasn't too happy with its behavior to open up files in another tabs- one looses focus. Mendeley has a decent experience with annotations. The only good thing about Readcubes and Mendeley is "recommendations" that loads up similar articles.

Bookends beats them except for the "cloud-part". I have a massive Dropbox subscription and hence I don't care about how much storage space its going to take. Nevertheless, I do miss a browser integration via extension (not a bookmarklet) and a recommendation engine built in. If Bookends can implement this, it is GOLD.

I have no other qualms. No reference manager is perfect- I am planning to use Mendeley for the online discovery, export everything to Bookends and then attach files to the references (if any).

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Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2018 5:53 pm

Re: The era of "cloud reference managers"?

Post by nh220 » Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:06 am

I, too, fairly regularly "stray" from Bookends as while Bookends remains (to my mind) the single best reference management experience, some of the others mentioned are much better suited to collaborative writing and work in a cross-platform setting. But unless you really need either of those two things, I think Bookends is far and away the best option.

That said, as far as this "new breed" of managers go, I am most interested in Paperpile--especially if they can get their promised MS Word plug-in up and running (I do not write in Google Docs unless I absolutely have to). Readcube is a mess UI wise and has lots of other issues and shortcomings (lest I checked you could not insert page numbers into citations!). They have promised a new app based on the acquired (and dearly departed) Papers but have pushed this back multiple times. Mendeley is an option but there are some pretty significant debates about the ethics of their owner. And of course all of these use CLS, which I find a complete pain to edit. And none of them handle legal materiel very well.

I consider Zotero (and EndNote) less part of this new breed and more of legacy applications with some online components. I ended up using Zotero for collaborative work because it is free and allows you to sore your PDFs wherever you want (with the Zotfile extension). So, in theory--I haven't bothered looking into this yet--you could have Bookends and Zotero point to the same PDF directory synced via iCloud, OneDrive, or whatever. I actually really liked EndNote and would like to use it for cross-platform work, but they really screwed the pooch with X9, which is not usable on Mac.

All that said, I do wish Bookends handled online references a bit better. An extension a la Zotero's would be nice.

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