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