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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Hands On: Papers 3 3.3.3 (iOS)

Hands On: Papers 3 3.3.3 (iOS)
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MacNN Staff
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Oct 25, 2015, 12:38 PM
If you're in college, you spend a lot of your time writing papers assuming you want to succeed. This is also true of scientists, humanitarians, and countless research-based jobs. Trying to organize all your source material is generally pretty difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Papers 3, a personal research library, is here to make your life a little easier, and we've been using it for a while.

Papers 3 is designed to be a research library for anyone who finds themselves doing a lot of writing in an academic setting. It's not the first research library that we've run across, but it is one that boasts a lot of features that others don't, and one we think is worth taking a look at.

Using Papers 3 is easy, and the app features a walk-through upon the first time you run across new features -- going to the official app website also allows you to access a rather large help section. Papers 3 works just like a search engine, except it only searches what are generally considered to be academic resources, including Google Scholar, the Library of Congress, The New York Times, PubMed, and many more. Then, you simply tap to download the articles, if possible. If you cannot download the article, Papers 3 will allow you to save the file as a web link to visit later.

After you make an account, Papers 3 allows you to sync across the web, iOS, PC, and Mac versions of the application. This means that any content you download from one place will be accessible from any other places. This is especially useful if you're a student or other scholarly type who finds themselves working on multiple devices.

Comparing it to other similar products, namely Zotero, there's a surprising amount of benefits to using Papers 3. First and foremost, Papers 3 has an official iOS app, which instantly makes researching on the go far easier than Zotero does. You can also research directly from Papers 3, which is the product's actual intended use, which again, Zotero doesn't.

There's one incredibly important thing to point out, though: Papers 3 isn't exactly free. Sure, the app is free, the online version is free, but the desktop versions are not. If you're interested in using Papers 3 on a PC or Mac, there's a subscription fee. For non-students, subscriptions start at under $4 a month, or there's a one-time purchase fee for $80. If you're a student, you can subscribe for under $3 a month, or a one-time purchase fee of $50. If you're writing a lot of papers and you need to do your research from an iPad or an iPhone because you're always on the go, we think it's worth it. If you're primarily working on the computer, you might find Zotero a better fit, as Zotero is 100 percent free.

Papers 3 features a nearly identical catalog system to Zotero, which means that you're able to enter in your publications author, editors, volume numbers, and all the other important things for creating flawless bibliographies. And speaking of bibliographies - Papers 3 works with both Mac and PC applications, provided you've purchased it and aren't using the free version. The bibliography share feature is similar to that in Microsoft Word and Pages -- you can create in-line citations and correctly formatted bibliographies from the information you've collected. At the time of this review, we can't readily find a Papers 3 extension for Open Office. We think this is worth mulling over before you make the choice between Papers 3 and Zotero, as Zotero does have an official extension for Open Office.

So, if you're a high school, college, or grad school student who find themselves frequently writing papers, we highly suggest that you snag some sort of research library. If you're an iOS device owner, especially someone who owns an iPad, we highly suggest that you take a look at Papers 3. It's available for both the iPhone and the iPad, and is free.

Who Papers 3 is for:
Anyone who finds themselves wishing they could be gathering sources for papers from their iPad or iPhone, and anyone who finds themselves writing a lot of academic papers in general.

Who Papers 3 isn't for:
If you absolutely do not want to spend money on a monthly subscription to Papers 3, we highly suggest you snag Zotero - you won't be able to research directly from your iPad, but you'll get most of the same features at no cost.

-Amber Neely (@SurferAmber)

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Join Date: Apr 2000
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Oct 25, 2015, 01:51 PM
Thanks to MacNN for this review on the latest version of Papers.

Here is another take on Papers 3: http://macademic.org/2014/03/29/papers-3-still-disappointing/. The 110 comments are worth perusing. Macademic.org is a great resource for software reviews and workflow ideas.

I stumbled upon the website when I was researching annotation, citation and bibliography software. I settled on Bookends (http://www.sonnysoftware.com) mainly for its integration with Scrivener (http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php). The article "Essential Software for Academic Work On The Mac" (http://macademic.org/software-for-academic-work-on-a-mac/) is a must-read for anyone interested in getting the best bang for the buck: 25 programs in 5 categories with alternatives (and links for everything) included. Happy writing!
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