Getting Started With Paperpile

Did the Paperpile Review leave you interested in learning more?

To use Paperpile you need an Internet connection, Google Chrome, and a Google account. Since student/personal use accounts do not require a dot edu email, I recommend using your Google Apps @ Illinois account  for this because you can fully use and enjoy unlimited free storage from Google to store your PDFs. Paperpile offers one month free; afterwards, it’s $36 for the year. You can download the extension for Chrome here. If you already use Mendeley or Zotero you can import all of your files and information from these programs to Paperpile. In order to use Paperpile, you will need the app on each version of Chrome you use. It should sync as part of your Chrome extensions, and you can install it on Chrome on University Library computers as well.

You can import PDFs and metadata by clicking on the Paperpile logo on Chrome.

Paperpile import tool located just right of the search bar in Chrome

On your main page you can create folders, tag items, and more! You can also search for new articles in the app itself.

Paperpile Main Menu

If you didn’t import enough information about a source or it didn’t import the correct information you can easily add more details by clicking the check mark next to the document in the menu and clicking edit on the top menu next to the search box for your papers.

Paperpile

Plus, from the main page, when you click “View PDF” you can also use the beta annotations feature by clicking the pen icon. This feature lets you highlight and comment on your PDF and it saves the highlighted text and comments in order by page in notes. It can then be exported as plain text or as very pretty printouts. It is rectangle-based highlighting and can be a little bit annoying, especially when highlighting doesn’t always covered the text that was copied. Like a highlighter in real life you cannot continue to highlight onto the next page.

Highlighted and copied sentence split by page boundary

When you leave the app, the highlighting is saved on the PDF in your Google Drive and you can your highlights on the PDF wherever you use Google Drive. The copied text and comments can be exported into a very pretty printout or a variety of plaintext file formats.

Print screen of exported annotated notes on Paperpile

Not the prettiest example but you get the idea.

Once you get to actually writing your paper you can add citations to your paper in Google docs by clicking the Paperpile tab on your Google doc. You can search your library or the web for a specific article. Click format citations and follow the instructions for how to download the add-on for Google docs.

Paperpile cite while you write in Google Docs

I didn’t try it but there’s a Google Docs sidebar so that anyone can add references, regardless of whether or not they are a Paperpile user, to a Google Doc. I imagine this is great for those group projects where the “group” is not just the person who cares the most.


Troubleshooting

Paperpile includes a support chat box, which is located on your main page, and is very useful for troubleshooting. For example, one problem I ran into with Paperpile is that you cannot change the page number to match what it actually is in the article and page number is based on the PDF file in the notes feature. I messaged and  I got a response with a professional tone within twenty-four hours. Turns out, they are working on this problem and eventually PDFs will be numbered by actual page number, but they can’t say when they will have it fixed.

For other problems, there is an official help page  with a lot of instructions about using the software and answers to frequently asked questions. There is also a blog and a  forum which is particularly nice because you can see if other people are experiencing the same problem and what the company plans to do about it.

Scholarly Commons runs a variety of Savvy Researcher workshops throughout the year including personal information management and citation managers. And let us know in the comments about your favorite citation/reference management software and your way of keeping your research organized!

And for the curious, the examples in this post are based from the undergraduate research collection in IDEALS. Specifically:

Kountz, Erik. 2013. “Cascades of Cacophony.” Equinox Literary and Arts Magazine. http://hdl.handle.net/2142/89474.

Liao, Ethel. 2013. “Nutella, Dear Nutella.” Equinox Literary and Arts Magazine. http://hdl.handle.net/2142/89476.

Montesinos, Gary. 2015. “The Invisible (S)elf: Identity in House Elves and Harry Potter.” Re:Search: The Undergraduate Literary Criticism Journal 2 (1). http://hdl.handle.net/2142/78004.

Review: Paperpile Citation Manager

Are you addicted to Google Docs and are looking for a citation manager, PDF reader, or research workflow system? Do you wish you could just cite while you write in Google docs like you do with Zotero or Mendeley in Word? Do you have an extra $36 a year to spare?

Then you might want to try Paperpile!

Paperpile App Main Menu

Paperpile is a simplified reference management system and research workflow program for Google Chrome created by three computational biologists based in Vienna.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Can organize your sources when you’re trying to write a paper or doing readings
  • A lot of explanatory text in the app
  • Allows you to import metadata and PDFs from your browser (similar to Zotero’s one click import) and asks you if you want to add the item (PDF and details) to Paperpile
  • The annotations feature makes readings and notes for classes a lot of fun with very pretty colors
  • When the PDF is not encrypted, if you highlight the text it will copy the highlighted text into notes with your annotations that you can then copy and paste when writing a paper
  • Wide range of document types and citation styles
  • You can cite while you write in Google Docs
  • Provides look up to find similar journal articles to what you are researching, which allows you to do research through the app, especially if you’re doing research from science databases
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • 15 GB of free space through Google
  • Good customer service
  • Thorough explanatory material
Highlighted text with annotations in the Paperpile app

Excerpt from Montesinos, Gary. 2015. “The Invisible (S)elf: Identity in House Elves and Harry Potter.” Re:Search: The Undergraduate Literary Criticism Journal 2 (1). https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/78004.
And check out Re:Search: The Undergraduate Literary Criticism Journal and more great undergraduate research in IDEALS!

Cons:

  • High cost ($36), especially compared to solid free options like Mendeley and Zotero
  • Requires Internet access
  • Although the company is in the process of developing a plugin for MS Word, currently, Paperpile is heavily reliant on Google and Google Drive
  • Paperpile is a proprietary software and a startup so there are risks that they will go out of business or be bought by a larger company
    • Though, should the worst happen Paperpile uses open standards that will allow you to get your PDFs, citations out — even if they are in an ugly format — as well as the highlighted text saved in your PDFs, which can be downloaded through Google Drive
  • Paperpile is a very new product and there are still a lot of features to be worked out
    • I will say however that it is a lot less buggy than a lot of comparable reference management / PDF annotation software that have been around longer and aren’t classified as in beta, like Readcube and Highlights

Paperpile is comparable to: Mendeley, iLibrarian, colwiz, Highlights.

Learn more about personal information management through our PIM Libguide, various Savvy Researcher workshops and more! Let us know about your strategies for keeping everything organized in the comments!

 

Running low on Zotero storage? Sync your files through a cloud storage service

I’ve recently returned to using Zotero for collecting, organizing, and citing references after not having used the software for a couple of years. While I was a bit rusty, it only took a couple of days for me to get up and running at my previous level of Zotero expertise (which really wasn’t that high to begin with). But despite feeling comfortable with the program, it wasn’t long before I found myself running out of storage space.

Zotero’s sync feature allows you to keep your citation data up to date across as many devices as you’d like. And while this is a great feature, I’ve found that it isn’t of much use without also being able to access my PDFs on all these devices as well.

The good news is that Zotero allows you to attach PDFs to items (i.e. citations) in your library. The bad news is that it only gives you 300 MB of free storage (with an option to pay for more). While PDF files generally aren’t that big, 300 MB can get eaten up pretty quickly if you have a lot of documents.

In the past I generally didn’t store my PDFs within Zotero, but I quickly fell in love with this feature upon my recent return to the software. And since I’ve yet to be willing to pay for cloud storage, I was afraid I’d have to resign myself to storing PDF files in one of the many free cloud storage services I use, rather than having them attached to my Zotero data. But, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to both store my PDFs via a third party cloud storage service, and have these PDFs linked up to Zotero? Well it turns out there is!

In order to accomplish this feat, you’ll use something called WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning). While I still don’t completely understand what this is, for our purposes a WebDAV service is the third party cloud storage service that you can use to store your Zotero PDFs and other attached files. Zotero provides a list of services that offer free plans and that are known to work with Zotero (I use Box).

Once you’ve decided on a WebDAV service, setting up Zotero to work with it is fairly simple. First open your preferences by clicking the icon that looks like a gear.

zotero2

In the File Syncing section of the preferences menu, select WebDAV in the dropdown menu next to “Sync attachment files in My Library using.”

zotero4

Next, enter the URL for the WebDAV service that you’ve decided to use, along with your user name and password associated with that service.

zotero5

If you’ve chosen one of the services on Zotero’s list, you can find the URL there. Note that the menu pictured above already includes the “https”, “://” and “/zoter/”, so make sure you don’t enter this into the field as well. After entering your information, click on “Verify Server” underneath the password field. If everything has worked correctly, you should get a message that says file sync has been setup!

You can continue attaching PDFs and other files to items in your Zotero library as before. The only difference is that now these files will be stored through your WebDAV rather than through Zotero’s own storage system.

For more information you can consult Zotero’s syncing documentation. If you would like more general information about Zotero, you can consult the Library’s Zotero Libguide or attend a Savvy Researcher Workshop. And as always, send us an email if you have any questions.

Have your own tip for getting the most out of Zotero? Let us know in the comments below!

Note that WebDAV only works with personal, not group, libraries.