Society & Partner Zone Issue 10, Services

Is your research literature out of control? Let Papers help you!

Conventional wisdom dictates that a tidy desk (or for the purposes of this article) a tidy desktop, indicates a tidy mind. While Einstein’s infamous comment “If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” may seem to disagree with this wisdom, nonetheless being able to effectively organize the numerous documents, articles, and other grey literature researchers need is an essential part to inspiring the research process.

Your society members may already be using different solutions to help them do this, and some may look to the society to advise them in this endeavor. But for anyone conducting research or supporting researchers, you will be aware of the challenges that managing extensive virtual libraries can bring.

It was these exact same challenges that Alexander Griekspoor and Tom Groothuis (founders of Papers) experienced while doing their PhDs at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI). Drawing a blank from their search for a workflow solution that would help them organize their daily lab activities, the duo decided to develop their own. The result was Papers, a comprehensive reference manager that centralizes and organizes references and documents in a single tool. Speaking with Christine Buske, Papers Genius and Marketing Manager, she confided “When Alex and Tom developed Papers, I don’t think they imagined at the time that it would become such a popular workflow tool.”

Papers began life as a free piece of software and has morphed into one of the major document management systems available today. Serving users around the world, Papers now includes 25 built in repositories (including PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and ArXiv), tools for importing, saving, highlighting and annotating articles, the ability to share and discuss papers and much more. One of the most widely used features – and perhaps one of the most important – is Magic Citations. This feature allows users to pull up citations in almost any application including web browsers, email clients, Powerpoint as well as word processor programs. Users can also use it to generate a collection from the resources cited in a manuscript, even after they have completed it.

Prior to joining the team, Christine used Papers for her own research. “The features I used the most were recent articles (where you can search for recent publications by author or periodical) as well as magic citations. I kept not only my research articles in Papers, but also travel invoices, conference registrations, reports and more. Papers can organize over 85 different document types including scanned receipts! Now I use it for my work documents, and I still have my research library archived.”

As Christine’s job title - Papers Genius - may suggest, this is a company that chooses to break the boundaries of convention, not only in its product development but also its culture. “The development of Papers is a great story,” said Christine. “As Papers grew in popularity, so did our team although at first we were distributed, meaning that we lived in different places. In fact it took 2 years and 18 days for me to actually shake hands with my boss after being hired!”

As Papers Genius, Christine is responsible for developing the user experience meaning that she interacts a lot with end users through workshops, tutorials, videos, and email. “With Papers it is all about the end user,” she concurs. The goal of Papers is to make life easier for users by supporting workflow needs – a mission, Christine notes, that aligns very closely with that of societies. “Societies want to support their members by helping them make their research more effective and more accessible. With Papers, society members can easily share and collaborate on their work, and reach a much wider audience more easily.”

Springer’s acquisition of Papers in 2012 means exciting new opportunities for development, including a site licensing business model to make it easier for larger groups such as societies and organisations to distribute Papers within their teams. “We joined Springer to drive the development of Papers forward and in this regard we are keeping our promise. In addition to a site licensing option, which will include an administration panel to make deployment and access management easier, we’ve released improvements and significant updates, most notably bringing the annotations feature over to Papers for Windows. We are working hard on a number of exciting major new updates, but they are all still a surprise, so stay tuned!”

To learn more about Papers, you can download a 30-day free, full feature trial.