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    cjvitek's Avatar
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    Default Review: Papers

    Papers, by mekentosj.com
    $14.99, ****


    • Access to major search indices
    • Ability to store and access scientific manuscripts on your iPhone/iPad

    • Can only sync with a Mac (and only if you have Papers for Mac)
    • Can’t load your own pdf’s that you may have downloaded.

    For those of us in the field of any science or technology (and yes, I am including the “soft sciences”), you may often find yourself wishing you have a copy of some random manuscript at odd times. Most recently, I was in Cancun at a conference, and I was talking to someone about the mosquito genome, and I couldn’t recall if the Aedes aegypti genome had been sequences yet. For people who may have found themselves in that position, Papers is the app for you.

    Papers for the iPhone and iPad is a professional source of obtaining scientific and professional publications from a variety of journals. It allows you to maintain constant access to any scientific literature. Can’t recall a certain paper? Simply download it and have it at your fingertips! Papers serves as both a method to search common scientific databases, as well as download articles of interest to your library.

    For the search features, you can search for any keyword from a variety of sources – including Web of Science, PubMed, and even Google Scholar. Unfortunately, you can’t choose the type of keyword (author name, subject, title, etc) but that isn’t really needed – the app will automatically just search those databases for any mention of the word you are looking for. You choose a single database to search, and the results will appear. As with most of these scientific databases, you need to have either an account or university-level access to actually download the manuscript, but if you do, you can then keep the manuscript in your “library”. You can keep important papers in your library (organized by author or journal).

    Once you have a manuscript in your library, you can peruse it whenever you want. You can also add bookmarks, make notations about the manuscript – basically all the stuff you can do if you were read a hard copy of the manuscript.

    Unfortunately, there are two main issues with this app, one of which is not the apps fault, and one of which is. The first issue is accessing the manuscripts and databases. The app does allow for your to set up a proxy account from your University, so that you can access the databases even if you aren’t on the school network, but it is a confusing process (maybe just for me, as I have never done it!). I haven’t yet successfully managed to set it up, but part of that is due to my library (and their lack of assistance).

    The other issue is with synching papers you already own/download. If you have a Mac, and IF you have purchased Papers for Mac, you can sync you existing library of PDF’s. However, if you don’t, you have no way of syncing these manuscripts. So I have a number of manuscripts that I have been sent, or downloaded on my own, but I can’t send them to my “mobile library” because I don’t have the proper software. Ideally there would be some way to sync existing PDF’s even if you don’t have a Mac or don’t have the Mac software.

    Papers is a universal binary (and thus, this is my first review in the iPad apps forum, also posted to the iPhone apps forum). The app design is similar in both devices, but reading the papers and accessing the manuscripts in the databases on the iPad is really nice. I am glad to see you don’t have to purchase a “special” Papers HD or something to use it on the iPad. Please note, the pictures of the app are from the iPhone version - the iPad version is basically the same, just more real estate.

    All in all, however, this is a useful apps for people who may need to access scholarly journals. The ability to have instant access to manuscripts, and the ability to search well known databases for manuscripts can be surprisingly useful. At $14.99, the app is far from cheap, although it is a universal binary and works on both the iPhone and iPad (expensive for iPhone, reasonable for iPad). For people who use these resources, Papers is a useful tool to have at your arsenal. Four out of five stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

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