After the horrors of writing my undergraduate honors thesis with mounds of unbounded stacks of printed articles, papers, and documents strewn around my home office and apartment in general, I swore by the time I started a PhD program, I would be paperless. As in all digital. This meant I must find and stick with a citation manager, which can also act as a dedicated reader. As I started to research what types of programs would be be a good fit, a wishlist of functionality grew:
- Ability to fit into my search process for articles
- Annotation capability
- Sophisticated search function to search not only for articles, but within them as well as my annotations
- Aesthetically pleasing organization of personal databases
- Ability to sync across devices like my iPad
- Citation compatibility with Scrivener
I tested out Zotero, Mendeley, EndNote, RefWorks, and Citavi. As much as I liked Citavi, in testing the program, I found out their patent did not extend to the US for citation compatibility with Scrivener. That in itself was not worth investing in a program that was made exclusively for Windows, which meant I installed Parallels to create compatibility with the Mac OS for the trial. A close second was Mendeley and though it worked well with Microsoft Word, it was not entirely compatible with Scrivener, which is my main drafting application for larger pieces of work. I finally came across Papers and though it is not perfect, it fit the bill for all my needs.
I will cover a thorough review of Papers in another post, but for now I will say I love their Magic Citation feature. It works seamlessly with Scrivener and after I compile my project into Microsoft Word, all my citations come through magically. As in effortless. I love it.
With a quick keyboard command, I can pull up Magic Citation in a floating window when I am writing in Scrivener (or any other word processing platform).
I simply search for the article I am citing and press enter. Papers then inserts the cite key into my draft, which I can manipulate using Bibtex or their citation modifiers to set the citation exactly how I would like.
Then, after I compile into a Word document, I can quickly format the whole document with a few clicks.
And before you know it, not only are the cite keys transformed into proper citations, but I also have a beautiful bibliography of references compiled for me at the end of my document in any style I desire. You can see here that it is currently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry where I typically use APA.
Papers may be downloaded and used across both Windows and Mac for a 30 day trial. The program may then be purchased at a student or faculty discount. What citation manager is currently part of your academic work flow? If you’ve tried Papers, please let me know your thoughts below!