April 2013 Archives

Life could be easier...

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The PIM group is relaunching the Life Could Be Easier series, this time featuring users of tablets and other devices. Our first post is from Jon Jeffryes, who was awarded an iPad in November's Emerging Tech Expo Device Competition.

Here's a quick overview of the Apps that I've found most useful since getting a work iPad in January 2013. I'll admit I started out skeptical about how useful an iPad could be in day-to-day work and have found myself pleasantly surprised.

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EndNote
I'm like contractually obliged to mention the EndNote app, since the reason I got the iPad was to offer EndNote Support. I've got to admit it's a pretty nice app...it allows the user to download the citations from their EndNote Web account. You can also connect to Dropbox (if you have the app on your tablet) to connect full text to citations. Once you've got the pdf in the EndNote app you can annotate the pdf in the app itself (it allows highlighting and writing (with your finger or a stylus) directly onto the pdf). It's one of the pricier apps (at least for me)...but the functionality and connection to EndNote Web makes this a pretty powerful tool for mobile access to citations. The one caveat that might be of interest to users is that in the Settings the default is set to on for "Send Anonymous Usage Data" -- that might not be popular.

User feedback in the app store has been mixed, with issues on sync-ing citations and annotations.

Since I was looking ThomsonReuters products I also downloaded

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RefScan
This app is supposed to let you take a photo an article's DOI with your phone and then search Web of Science for the citation information (which you could then export to EndNote Web and download to your iPad).

As of yet I haven't been able to have it work successfully. So not something I use a lot, but I have tested it. If someone has got it work I'd love to learn what I'm doing wrong!

My favorite thing to use the iPad for professional reading. To that end I've downloaded

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Dropbox

...which everyone already knows and loves. I store the pdfs there and then open them in

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iAnnotate PDF

Reading pdfs on an iPad is so much more pleasant than reading paper (I never thought I'd enjoy the electronic version of anything more)...but my usual practice was to carry multiple printed pdfs around in my bag for months and months and they'd get coffee stained or ripped up. Now I have a bunch in DropBox and can read them in pristine condition. The annotation features in iAnnotate are much more advanced than those available in EndNote -- multiple color highlighting options, typing notes, etc.. Another nice thing for all those folks wishing they had a standing desk is that with the tablet you can stand up and read them.

and finally my unexpected gem is

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iNapkin2

I'm a meeting doodler and that has always been my least favorite aspect of laptop notetaking. This app provide a screen that looks like a napkin and you can doodle your thought processes to your heart's content during meetings. You can also type in notes, draw diagrams, etc.

I've also found the iPad to be useful during informal presentations...during two recent poster presentations I used my iPad to supplement the presentation by taking people to live examples on the Internet I use

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Chrome

to access the Internet.

I'm also still interested in exploring the possibilities of project management using

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Corkulous Pro

I'm hoping to use it for stickies and other reminders to have a virtual, transportable bulletin board. I just haven't gotten around to integrating it into my workflow yet.

And if you love dictionaries you can't beat

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Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I downloaded this after Peter Solokowski's speech in Walter Library and it's wonderful...a quick search that feels more reliable then my old Googling technique to find definitions. It also has a "word-of-the-day" feature that I quite enjoy! It fits perfectly in my tablet milieu (today's word of the day!) It also allows you to favorite definitions for easy access and tracks your "recent lookups".


ACS ChemWorx: A New Research Management Tool

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I spent part of my morning today fiddling around with ChemWorx, a new tool from the American Chemical Society. Here is what ChemWorx purports to do, per their email press release:

ACS ChemWorx enables researchers to:


  • Organize their research for online publication

  • Quickly create online profiles with comprehensive messaging and social communication features

  • Organize workgroups and maintain private discussion areas

  • Import, manage and share their research libraries

  • Obtain free access to the ACS Style Guide Online

My initial impression was that this tool is similar to Mendeley. It has an online interface as well as desktop and mobile applications. It allows researchers to connect with each other through their profiles as well as organize and cite their research. I haven't tried out the MS Word plugin for citations yet, although it does exist (as well as Open Office and LaTeX), or the mobile versions. Here are some of my initial impressions from the desktop & web clients:

The Good


  • When I opened the desktop client, I was easily able to import my entire Mendeley Library. I also was able to select articles of my own from a Google Scholar search. Both were super easy to do, and ChemWorx kept my file organization structure from Mendeley.

  • ChemWorx is completely free. There is no tiered pricing structure. What you get in terms of storage space is 5000 publications or 3072 MB.

  • ChemWorx has some neat interfaces for looking at your research/publications. You can use it to look at analytics based on author, journal, publication type, and publisher for your entire collection or for specific folders.

  • ChemWorx has a PDF viewer that can be used to highlight and annotate PDFs

  • Drag & drop capability for adding PDFs.

  • Users can create shared groups or shared collections, and there doesn't seem to be a limit on the number of either.

  • There are quite a few citation styles available (mostly in the sciences, of course, but big ones like MLA & APA are also there.)

  • ChemWorx links out to a lot of search interfaces for finding articles. From within the desktop client, you can search PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, ACS, Google Scholar, IEEE Xplore, and a whole lot more. These are not, however, connected to institutional accounts, so getting the full text still requires going through the library website.

  • Adding metadata for articles works similarly to Mendeley. Like Mendeley, ChemWorx attempts to mine metadata from PDFs. When this doesn't work, you can enter a doi, pmid, or arXivID to try to find it. It did seem like there were some bugs with this, but only sometimes.

The Not-So-Good or Just Plain Confusing

  • The biggest problem I had was that the Help for ChemWorx has very little content. I was mostly left to my own devices to figure things out, and for some things that never happened.

  • The storage space limitations are not as robust as some might need.

  • I wasn't able to actually add documents to my groups or collections. I also could not figure out how to add someone to a shared collection (and of course, there was nothing about this in the Help.)

  • Once I added all of my Mendeley articles to the desktop interface, I was unable to view my library in the online version even though I synced.

  • Some of the desktop features actually go to a web interface, so that's a little confusing. I'm not sure if or how they would work offline.

  • In the online interface I can see some functionality for creating tasks and events and sharing those with others. I cannot figure out where those are in the web version. Also, my tasks aren't even displaying in the online version.

  • Messages posted to groups seem to only appear in the online version.

Overall impression
I think ChemWorx needs some more time. Most of the issues I found with it were due to bugginess and lack of documentation -- both of which I hope will improve with some time. It's not something I would be ready to recommend to users yet. That said, I will keep an eye on it because I think it's a good start and could be a nice alternative to Mendeley, particularly for users who want to have multiple groups and not pay extra for them.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2012 is the previous archive.

June 2013 is the next archive.

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