readcube review

April 10, 2013 at 11:45 am | | literature, software

I recently tried Readcube, which is a PDF reader and organizer. I did so because Nature has been using it built into their site, and I like how it displaying PDFs. The article data downloads seamlessly for most papers, and  interface is quite beautiful:


The really cool feature is that Readcube automatically downloads the references and the supporting information documents and can display them at a click of a button. More importantly, it displays the references in the sidebar. It makes an excellent reading experience!

readcube2 readcube3

The final interesting feature is that Readcube offers recommendations based on your library. From my quick scan, the recommendations seem pretty good.

Other than that, Readcube is quite feature poor. It doesn’t have a way to insert citations into a Word document, like Papers and Mendeley does, although you can export to Endnote. I don’t see a way to read in full screen nor does it let you view two pages simultaneously, like Papers does.

papers fullscreen

The screenshot above is from Papers fullscreen view, which is how I really like to read PDFs.

But┬áReadcube is still in beta, and they’re starting from a really nice starting point. I’m not ready to give up on Papers for reading (and I’ve been using Mendeley for Word citations, because it has really nice collaborative features). But I might try Readcube some more, mainly because of the awesome ability to see all the references and the paper simultaneously. I really wish I could mash Papers, Mendeley, and Readcube all together into one feature-rich program…


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  1. Have you tried the new Pubmed Reader? I’ve only looked at it briefly, but seems like a really beautiful reading experienece, and the way it shows figures in the bar at the bottom seems awesome, since my biggest issue with reading on a screen is still flipping back and forth to the figures.

    Comment by mary — April 11, 2013 #

  2. Hi Mary. No, I hadn’t even seen the PubReader. I checked it out and I’m really impressed! If they also had a way to display the references in a sidebar, it’d be near perfect. Maybe in a year or two, we won’t even store our PDF archives on our computer and instead just use Pubmed for everything. I’ll review it sometime soon…

    Comment by sam — April 11, 2013 #

  3. Yeah, the biggest problem to me is that I didn’t see any way to create a database of references to come back and read later. For me at least, finding papers to read and reading papers are usually two very separate tasks. Saving PDFs to my Mendeley database is my way of making a to do list of papers to read. I guess I could click from Mendeley back to PubReader but that seems like a hassle, and I’ll probably end up just sticking with the PDF.

    I’d also like for there to be a way to use it offline and to save notes. If all those things happened, I’d be happy to switch away from Mendeley and use PubReader instead (especially now that Mendeley is part of Elsevier).

    Comment by mary — April 13, 2013 #

  4. for pubmed, i think you can create collections. you’d never need to download PDFs to your own computer.

    Comment by sam — April 14, 2013 #

  5. […] reviewed several PDF reader/organizers, like ReadCube, Papers, and Mendeley. Currently, I use Papers for organizing my PDF library on my computer. I also […]

    Pingback by Everyday Scientist » PubReader review — April 14, 2013 #

  6. […] just wanted to reiterate how great the ReadCube recommendations are. I imported all my PDFs and now check the […]

    Pingback by Everyday Scientist » readcube and deepdyve update — June 6, 2013 #

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