Experts’ Take: Managing Research Articles with ReadCube

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  Jan 11, 2016   Enago Academy   : 0

  : Expert Views, Industry News
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ReadCube is a desktop and browser-based research tool, which organizes and manages data. You run it from your own computer and it uses Google Scholar, PubMed, and Microsoft Academic to locate and download articles. With the ever-expanding deluge of scientific literature, it’s challenging to manage, organize, and make sense of all the data. ReadCube is a research tool that claims to help researchers in this aspect of their work.

Let’s find out what our experts think about Readcube.

Our Experts’ Opinions on ReadCube

orchid-6ReadCube also makes it easier to find new articles with its integrated database search capabilities and a personalized stream of paper recommendations.

MA, Interdisciplinary Studies (10+ years of Research and Academic Editing experience, US)

ReadCube is a free tool that brings a new dynamism to working with PDFs. This app offers several organizational features that help researchers to manage literature, such as the ability to perform full-text search with annotations, to customize lists of articles, and to import PDFs automatically. While reading through articles, researchers can highlight text, make notes, and click on enhanced reference information. ReadCube also makes it easier to find new articles with its integrated database search capabilities and a personalized stream of paper recommendations. Citations are also easier to write and organize with support for thousands of styles, the ability to instantly insert bibliographical information from Microsoft Word documents, and the capacity to collaborate with multiple authors without losing any data. In addition to desktop support, ReadCube now also has a mobile version for smartphones and tablets, making it easier to keep up with the latest research. And as a premium service, researchers can also make use of unlimited cloud storage with ReadCube Pro that allows for work across all platforms and devices for a small monthly fee.

ReadCube has an easy to use interface that enriches PDFs by making them accessible, customizable and connected.


orchid-6Potentially ReadCube will facilitate a new unity of science and humanities by promoting the use of an uncluttered eBook style interface for biomedical literature.

PhD, Cancer (12+ years of Scientific and Medical Writing experience, AU)

Although recreational reading may not always be associated with scientific literature, the innovators of ReadCube are promoting a more sophisticated approach to research articles, one that takes a step away from the bare utility of existing bibliographic programs and search engines. Although the concept is not an entirely bad one, scientific papers are predominantly formatted in a non-narrative style so that information can be found and collected without reading the entire paper, and the associated factual and dry academic writing generally does little for atmosphere. Some journals, such as Nature, have recognized that comprehension improves with use of the first person “we,” although to my knowledge very few other language style concessions have been made in the same vein. So what does ReadCube add? Potentially ReadCube will facilitate a new unity of science and humanities by promoting the use of an uncluttered eBook style interface for biomedical literature. Accordingly, ReadCube may capture a niche market of narrative-science readers who find pleasure in scientific ideas and enjoy the elegance of the software. Although the promotional video predominantly advertises ReadCube as a convenient alternative to existing bibliographic programs, the crucially streamlined file transfer and citation features, and the personalized recommendations function are very attractive.

ReadCube may not always limit the numbers of clicks required to search and cite an article, but it is conducive to reading and organizing literature, and that may be all that is required to find a market among bibliographic software programs.


ReadCube is a competitor to services such as Sciencescape which offer many of the same features. If you are a subscriber to the participating journals, these services are probably useful. Otherwise they are not of much value, since you can’t download most articles without paying a fee.

PhD, Organic Chemistry (13+ years of Scientific and Medical Writing experience, US)

ReadCube offers a variety of features that facilitate sorting and storing of articles in a personal library. Its software learns about your research needs as you use the service and make suggestions on articles to read. An enhanced PDF feature allows you to highlight and make notes in the article and more easily access supplemental information.

ReadCube is a competitor to services such as Sciencescape which offer many of the same features. If you are a subscriber to the participating journals, these services are probably useful. Otherwise they are not of much value, since you can’t download most articles without paying a fee.

I made a trial of ReadCube but didn’t get far. Signing up was easy but when I downloaded ReadCube my anti-virus program gave me a red flag warning that the program was suspect. I downloaded it anyway but couldn’t get it to run. The ReadCube customer support notes suggested (1) turning off my anti-virus program or (2) installing the ReadCube program by a complicated procedure that I opted not to attempt. I admit that I am not the most computer savvy person in the world. But last month I signed up for Sciencescape and had no problem downloading or using it. On that basis, I’d have to give it the edge over ReadCube as far as being user friendly.


orchid-5Compared to other software with similar features, ReadCube allows the user to access articles offline. This is particularly useful for the researchers who wish to work in the areas outside of internet network.

MS, Information Technology (11+ years of English–Japanese Translation experience, Japan)

Compared to its peers, ReadCube seems to provide 1) easier accessibility at all times, 2) advanced reference and pdf options, 3) ability to create and organize your own library, and 4) better style in sorting articles. What is most outstanding is that ReadCube offers all of these prominent features with no charge. They may be following the same paths that other successful IT firms have taken as a means to acquire a leading market share, despite the unavoidable initial financial losses. Compared to other software with similar features, ReadCube allows the user to access articles offline. This is particularly useful for the researchers who wish to work in the areas outside of internet network. Despite all of these advantages, there is a drawback; if the researcher is using other software such as Papers or Mendeley, it is not easy to transfer to ReadCube as it only takes PDF format as an import option.

In conclusion, ReadCube has its own advantages, but you need to make a decision after thorough assessment of its features and comparison with its alternatives.


orchid-4I must admit I do like the fact you can share legally a manuscript with your colleagues (for a fee, for a limited length of time), but even that advantage sounds to me of relatively little actual use.

PhD, Biology (12+ years of Scientific and Editing Experience, UK)

I have heard previously about Read Cube (in fact, shortly before it was launched), and my immediate thought was ‘why would anyone need such application?’

Sometime down the line, to be brutally honest, my opinion has not changed much ever since. I must admit I do like the fact you can share legally a manuscript with your colleagues (for a fee, for a limited length of time), but even that advantage sounds to me of relatively little actual use. After all, while I was an active scientist, I hardly had the need to share (or receive) an article with a colleague because he/she did not have access to the journal and sharing the actual piece of data of interest (which you can always share for free) was not an option.

The fact that many big publishers support it is certainly an advantage, but that advantage seems diminished by the difficulties that some appear to experience already simply downloading it. Last but not least, in an era of increasing open access publications, I just fail to see an application that sticks to the “library subscription model” such as Read Cube.

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