Streamline your writing — and collaborations

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Streamline your writing — and collaborations

For such utilitarian tools, context management software can inspire strong responses. Physician Ben Goldacre, for example, has tweeted at least five times about Pepperpile, a subscription-based context manager that integrates tightly with Google Docs, calling it "amazing", "fantastic, best" and " Incredibly good".

Goldkare, who is also director of the DataLab at the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, UK, explains: "PaperPile is the first time I've used a reference manager where it didn't make me want to punch myself into a routine. Out of sheer anger on the face at the base. It's just fabulous and perfect."

This is because it matches well with their team's workflow. Reference-management tools, also known as citation managers, perform a handful of related tasks: searching the literature; Storing and organizing PDFs of papers and supplementary materials; bibliography; and promote cooperation.

There are dozens of options, including EndNote, Mendeley Reference Manager, ReadCube Papers, RefWorks, Sciwheel and Zotero. (ReadCube Papers is backed by Digital Science—part of Holtzbrink, a majority shareholder in Nature's publisher, Springer Nature.)

For Goldcare, Pepperpile's seamless compatibility with Google Docs, which the team uses for collaborative writing, tipped the scales towards its use. For PhD student Emily Wiesel, who studies how the microbiome affects pregnancy, it was Zotero's status as a freely available, open-source project that prompted her to support it on other software. .

When Wiesel took the preliminary exams required by his department at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia to advance to his doctoral program, he struggled with citations. She was using Google Scholar, which can only output references in certain genres. But for his exam, he needed a format that Google Scholar didn't support, and he didn't have time to learn how to use a new piece of software.

So she turned to an online bibliography generator, and "used as few citations as possible to save myself some pain", she says. Weeks later, on the advice of a university librarian, she was using Zotero to insert citations into an online magazine, when she was prompted to tweet: "How about the first time I use a citation manager? am??

Reference Features

Michael Frankvilla, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, uses his context manager as an electronic brain—a place where he can store what he learns about the situations he's dealing with. , as well as informative graphics that he can share with patients and trainees. "Having a reference manager versus not being a reference manager is just a sea change," he says.

Frankvilla's 2018 review listed some basic criteria for selecting a reference manager (M. L. Frankvilla Pediatr. Radiol. 48, 1393–1398; 2018). Variables considered include cost, cloud-storage limits, operating-system compatibility, and support for PDF interpretation (for a list of different reference managers and their characteristics, see Supplementary Table).

Reference managers are usually desktop applications with an associated web interface that allows researchers to remotely access their own user 'libraries' – curated lists of references and related PDFs, as well as browser plug-ins Which makes it easy to import references from the Journal Web. page or other online source. Some (including Paperpile, RefWorks and Sciwheel) are exclusively web-based, meaning no installation or cloud syncing is required, and most offer mobile apps that allow users to read and access references from their smartphones or tablets allow to add.

Juliana Soares, a reference librarian at the Federal University of Cera in Lima, Brazil, is Mendele Consultant – a volunteer regional ambassador for Mendele's context-management software. She uses Mendeley's mobile app, and found that the feature to save references she found on Twitter helped her doctoral dissertation. (Other reference managers have this option, too.) "It facilitated the tracking of updated, recently published and curated scientific literature," she says.

As with most reference managers, users can organize their libraries with folders and tags, and search for articles by author name, keywords, text, and notes. The built-in PDF viewer enables them to read and annotate documents, highlight highlights, and take notes.

External search functions let them import articles – for example, from PubMed or Google Scholar, or in Mendeley's case, from a custom catalog of over 100 million papers. ReadCube Papers provides an 'enhanced PDF' experience, which does not exclude PDFs with supplementary materials and hyperlinks.
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