ReadCube Has Potential To Be One-Stop Shop For Research Literature


Labtiva recently released its ReadCube tool that allows people to better manage their PDF library of academic research literature.

Geared toward an academic audience, ReadCube allows users to upload their PDFs into their ReadCube library for more accurate searchability and supposedly better recommendations for related articles. Not just a glorified PDF library program, ReadCube takes it a bit further by providing methods for annotating (highlighting and adding notes) articles for even more personalization without in a non-destructive method (PDFs remain in their original location on your computer).

Additional Benefits

1. ReadCube handles duplicate files with ease. As long as the file title of the PDF does not change, ReadCube recognizes duplicate files (at least with the PDF file title) and does not re-add it to your library. ReadCube remembers computer folders, so even when I moved my PDF into a different folder and attempted to re-add it to my library, ReadCube refused.

2. It is surprisingly fast (although I have not uploaded a large PDF to view in ReadCube).

3. See more features here.


1. There are two methods of adding PDFs into your library: normal file-system and drag-and-drop. However, every time you click IMPORT, ReadCube “rescans” your entire company, which can take a while. There should be a pause button for this scan feature, so that users can quickly drag a new article. Or something that simply pauses the process.

2. There is no optical character recognition (OCR). Not all research literature were created as scanned text, and ReadCube’s main selling point was improved searchability; in addition, not everyone is going to try to re-download their PDFs as searchable PDFs or reformat their PDFs as searchable PDFs (not everyone has this capability nor the time, but it would make sense). ReadCube could add this capability so that users would not have to worry about doing it themselves.

ReadCube Image Highlight

3. There does not seem to be a method for highlighting images or basically any non-text objects. I was resolved into simply highlighting figure captions, but there should be a way to highlight entire images, charts, or graphs. There is a snapshot tool that I think is for this purpose, but it did not seem to do anything.

4. There is a limited number of participating institutions that ReadCube partners with for easier access to academic literature behind their proxies. For example, no California State University seems to be available, or at least not the one I am affiliated with.

5. ReadCube continually attempts to resolve issues related toward identifying PDFs you import. I uploaded several working papers, and there was no way to add relevant citation information as there was no way to manually input these since ReadCube tries to match what you input into PubMed or Google Scholar. There should be a way to maintain PDFs that are not academic articles.

ReadCube has a lot of potential in helping people better manage their academic literature. I stated many ways for it to improve, but the framework for a one-stop show for research literature is totally there. And it is social.

Still in public beta (version 0.86.945), ReadCube is available for both the Mac (Mac OS 10.4.9+ (Intel)) and PC (Windows XP, Vista, 7). The program utilizes Adobe AIR.

[images via PJ]

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