Bodong Chen

Crisscross Landscapes

Academic Workflow with Paperpile: Part 1


It was the beginning of this new school year when I started to “revamp” my academic workflow, which has been very digital since the dawn of my dissertation research. There are tons of articles you can find online about digital workflow for academics, e.g., this post, this one, this post involving LaTeX, etc. For me, there are a few essential things I want to achieve in my workflow:

Before this semester, I was using a pretty sophisticated workflow depending on Mendeley (for biblio capturing & storage), Dropbox (for storage), Skim + PDFExpert (for reading and annotation), and some R scripts (for automation). Theses tools support my efforts to ‘publish’ some of my raw notes online, just as an integrated component as my workflow. However, I struggled when writing collaboratively with colleagues. I was either stuck with MS Word and ended with a file name like this. Or, I need to insert reference after-the-fact when writing in Google Docs.

Things have improved after trying Paperpile, a fairly new tool for reference management. It comes with MetaPDF, which allows you to read & annotate PDFs in browsers and, more importantly, exporting annotations into various formats. For storage, Paperpile integrates with Google Drive, so that your PDF files are all synced through Drive. In addition, it integrates with Google Docs through an add-on! The whole design seems very intuitive to me and reflects much thinking to make our life easier.

Below is a 9-min video I made for colleagues in a faculty writing group. It describes three things: (1) basic interface; (2) capturing references from the Web; and (3) inserting citations into Google Docs. More tutorials may follow…

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Paperpile in what-so-ever manner.