ReadCube – The pdf organiser, reader, note-taker, paper tracker…

ReadCube is many things; it’s like an iTunes for your PDFs but SOOOOOO much better cuz it works really well (sorry Apple, not.), its a pdf reader, it make searchable notes, annotates pdfs, finds new articles, yes, ReadCube actually does that for you! Oh, just read the blog.

I am writing this piece for a great friend, ‘Becca, who’s just started her PhD and she knows I advocate using lots of online tools for academics but I never got around to showing her ReadCube cuz there just wasn’t enough time! So here you are, Becca, this is for you.

Screen Shot 2016-10-07 at 13.51.40.png

ReadCube organises you and your reading life

PDF – The ‘Portable Document Format’ that we all know and love(?) and can never get enough of. I still have a gargantuan folder full of PDFs with a cut-off date of 2015, when I was last active in research, it is backed up to the ‘cloud’ but finding and reading and organising my reading for writing papers was a nightmare until ReadCube! (No, I’m not being paid by these guys or have anything to do with the company I just love the product, I’m the same about Evernote – blog coming soon!)

What ReadCube does so well is, after you’ve effortlessly imported all your PDFs from your computer onto the FREE app you’ve just installed, you can start researching or writing for your paper straight away:

  • Create lists of articles

Yes, more list-making (I love lists, it’s the taxonomist in me).

Whether preparing reading lists or a group of relevant papers for an article or report, the list feature is a great way to organise yourself and your relevant papers:


List of lists you’ve created using your library and search results

  • Search within your own library or PubMed/ GoogleScholar

    Even if you don’t have all the papers in your library, don’t worry, use ReadCube to search for articles via PubMed/ GoogleScholar and download new articles (via your institute proxy servers!) is a great way to keep focussed while on your paper-trail since you don’t have to dip in and out of the program.

    • ***the best bit*** ReadCube will even recommend articles for you to read based on your entire library OR from a specific list – over a specific time period (published, last week/month/year)


Search for the latest articles based on your entire library or specific lists you’ve made

  • Reading PDFs is made easier too and all your notes are kept with the PDF

    Highlight your favourite passages in your PDF and make notes as you read, you won’t need to remember what your fervent scribbles mean any more.
    View Supplemental Material! Yes, it’s much easier to view additional material (not for every article as it depends on the source and download – e.g. if it’s yours and you didn’t include it then it won’t), so it’s not perfect but lots better since I last used ReadCube.

  • Citation tool – export your reading list to your reference manager!

    Yes, it’s so easy to export your whole reading list (highlight all articles and right click) to your citation manager, you might even want to send it to a colleague so they can see what you’re reading – keep it for your course students!

    screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-14-03-19Name of the reading list and highlighted contents (left), right click and options shown

More stuff:

Enhance PDF! This means that more information belonging to the PDF, usually from the publisher, appears on the PDF when you read it, like the institution to which the authors belong and supplemental material!:


Metrics. This will tell you how often the article has been cited and tweeted, but only if you get the ‘Pro’ package.

Bookmarklet for your web browser too. I could go on about all the features but I think you ought to just try it out for yourself, it won’t take long.

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 14.31.02.png

ReadCube helped me organise myself a lot during my PhD and PostDoc, and now they have apps available for your Android, and Apple portable devices, even the KindleFire, so you can read on the go.


Good luck to my friend, ‘Becca, I hope this keeps you feeling on top of things, and good luck to anyone else embarking on their PhDs this academic year!


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About Dr Jojo Scoble

Freelance Science Communicator. Microbiology PhD Oxon. Fiction Writer. Social Media dilettante. Ideas Factory.
This entry was posted in academia. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to ReadCube – The pdf organiser, reader, note-taker, paper tracker…

  1. Thanks for the fantastic post! You did an amazing job covering all of the time-saving aspects of ReadCube for ‘Becca!

    I wanted to add that in addition our bookmarklet, we recently launched our own nifty Chrome Extension (via Chrome Store at:

    It’s like our bookmarklet, but actually cross checks what’s already in your library and has proxy support so you can do 1-click downloads (if available) right from pubmed and google scholar search results! We are working on versions for other browsers too.

    Alex & ReadCube Team


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