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How To Get Organized With Reference Managers for Science – ReadCube

A woman holding a red textbook in front of her face before a desk covered in papers, coffee cups, a tablet, and stationery to represent the reference manager Readcube

In my last post on reference managers, I discussed Mendeley, a well-established reference manager and the one I’m most familiar with.

Today I am going to tell you about ReadCube, a more recent addition to the referencing software market brought to you from Labtiva.

ReadCube was created by two Harvard students, Siniša Hrvatin and Robert McGrath.  While Siniša was working in a research lab as an undergraduate he encountered many of the inefficiencies and irritations that accompany the life of a researcher. He discussed these frustrations with his computer scientist roommate, Robert McGrath, which led to the two students founding a company together – thus ReadCube was born.  ReadCube is now backed by Digital Science, a sister company to Nature.

ReadCube has the basic features of a reference manager, such as generating a library of your references and papers and the ability to make notes, highlight text and annotate PDFs. In addition to these basic features, ReadCube has a sleek and streamlined design making it attractive and simple to use.

One of the best features of ReadCube, and one I wished existed when I was doing my PhD, is the enhanced PDF feature This feature overlays information about authors, references, and supplemental material onto the PDF.  Clicking references within the text brings up the related citations in a separate sidebar, including links to the online articles, allowing you quick access to related papers without losing your place.

ReadCube also has a fantastic feature for budget-strapped researchers.  Have you ever been frustrated by needing access to an article that your University doesn’t support and find yourself glaring at the pay-wall screen requesting $30 to gain access to the article?

Fear no more – ReadCube has launched ReadCube access which allows you to rent PDFs for 48 hours for as little as $2.99 or purchase them for just $4.99.  ReadCube access is currently available for over 100 journals from Nature Publishing Group. The low cost does come with a price, however; sharing and printing are disabled and you can only view them online or in ReadCube’s desktop app.

Other fantastic features of ReadCube include easy import of any article you have on your computer and integrated PubMed and Google Scholar searching. ReadCube even stores your University access details so you can get articles through your University’s subscription in just a few clicks.

For those that like to use their browsers to find relevant literature, ReadCube has created a Bookmarklet to send any papers from your browser to ReadCube in just one click.

Since ReadCube is relatively new to the market it is currently feature-light, but a quick glance at the feature requests shows that the development team is hard at work on new features including watched folders, support for Linux, cloud syncing, and a tablet app (sadly only for iOS for now).

Nature Publishing Group is not the only publisher to get involved in the reference software market. Springer has recently acquired another well-established reference software called Papers.  Find out more about Papers and its features in my next post in the series.

For more tips on keeping track of the scientific literature, head over to the Bitesize Bio Managing the Scientific Literature Hub.

1 Comment

  1. Mike D. Jones on May 22, 2013 at 6:24 am

    I had never heard of Readcube before this article – so hey, let’s try it out.

    I’ve only played with it for a little bit but I am impressed! It just works they way I ‘d want it to work is so sexy. Wait until i have a paper to write and I give it a real workout, but for now I may (try to) switch to it. I’ve used refworks, endnote and papers, this has a certain appeal to me that they don’t – though, there’s still a lot of novelty for now.

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