In our post introducing this series, we mentioned that there are many possible tools and workflows you can employ to achieve a paperless office. We asked Anthony Graesch, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Technology Fellow, to share his favorite tools and to describe how they fit into his own workflow. Here are his recommendations.
1. ReadCube is perhaps THE go-to app for finding, organizing, and citing published research available as PDFs. Check out this quick demo.2. Scrivener is my go-to app for brainstorming, organizing, and executing writing projects. This app was developed by writers for writers (~$40) and allows me to drag and drop any file – image, PDF, Word doc, etc. – into one desk space: I never have to bounce between windows, and I can annotate and organize all of the various media in situ. Importantly, it is a word processor. Although it is not as powerful as Word, it does exactly what it needs to do and has greater flexibility for organizing components of a writing project, whether they be ideas, chapters, articles sections, or whatever. As such, it meets my criteria for effective workflow: (1) it is not a cloud-based app (and thus is sophisticated software and not impacted by delays attributable to refreshing web pages, overly simplified tools, etc.); (2) it keeps my attention focused on one workspace- with all project-related media accessible in one app, there is no reason to bounce around my file directory, which is usually a major source of distraction. Lastly, I keep my Scrivener writing projects on Dropbox [cloud based storage, similar to Google Drive] and can access from either my laptop or my desktops. Excellent workflow.
3. A stand-alone PDF annotator is Skim [available only for Mac]. When you highlight text in Skim, it automatically copies that text into a note. Later, you can search your highlighted text! Or export it as notes. And you can add comments. This allows for maximally efficient note-taking and reviewing articles for seminar, writing projects, etc. I typically recommend Skim to my students.