As anyone involved in studying (or a job that requires looking up a lot of research) knows, managing citations and remembering sources is a challenge. This is doubly difficult when you’re balancing it with full-time work and use the same tech hardware for both. Alongside using tools for my own purposes, I look for alternatives (replacements or improvements) that I could with classes or show colleagues to make their lives easier.
With PaperPile (Chrome extension & add-on), I think I have found one of those solutions. This, to me, was the solution to the final problem that kept me using Micro$oft W0rd: reference libraries, one-click citation and auto-bibliographies. I’ll keep testing it as I go through the dissertation, but for now, check it out.
Updated: January 2017
The dissertation is long-since completed, but I have kept my subscription to PaperPile going for now, as I found it worth the money for work. Now that my library access from Bath has been disconnected, I am debating whether to keep it or if I should downgrade back to the free version.
Here’s a quick user review, based on my experiences.
Things I loved
- Connecting to the uni library was easy and super-helpful.
- Researching from within a GoogleDoc make things more efficient that before.
- Often I could bypass the uni library search tools altogether.
- When searching through Google or Scholar, a button appears next to possible citations, which pulls the paper back into the system.
- Automatic download of available pdf files is amazing – it backed them up into my Google Drive for reference, and was easy to download.
- Live updates to citations helps a lot, as with the Word Citation Manager.
- Sometimes the citation format is squiffy and needs to be manually updated. Be careful with this if you refresh the paper references, as if you forget to check you might end up with some irregularities.
- When I was finishing my dissertation I was working on a simple netbook on a sluggish internet connection in Indonesia. Drive with Paperpile is pretty heavy in terms of internet, and sometimes typing and citing were frustratingly delayed. Predicting this, I installed Office 365 and finished the dissertation using Word.
- There doesn’t yet (as far as I can see) appear to be a reciprocal citation manager with Word. It would be awesome if switching between the systems would update in both.
If you’re a Google Suite user and active researcher, I’d recommend giving PaperPile a go. It looks like it is going to get better with further development and would be great in a Chromebook environment.