The Living Thing / Notebooks :

Academic reading workflow

The continuing ascendancy of using piles of dead tree products for understanding cutting edge electronic information streams

PDF is a terrible format, but it is the standard in academia, despite some perfunctory efforts to make like the rest of the world and get with ebook formats. That would be nice; but in the real world, ebook formats are the minority, and generally if you convert PDFs to ebooks, the equations turn into đź’©, so this is only a solution for people who survive without equations or tables or graphs, which does not resemble my job description.

Now, how will I read all those PDFs and annotate them without losing track and going crazy? Bonus points if I can sync your annotations to your citation management software. More bonus points if I can also synchronise to a convenient e-reader so I don’t have to have my distracting laptop to read every sodding thing. Bonus points if the solution involves not putting all my notes in some obscure opaque commercial database with no guarantee of existing in perpetuity.


If I only read books or I only read papers and I had time, I could probably hack one of these into being a general purpose document annotation-and-metadata-and-ebook-reader-and-desktop-synchronisation system. As it is, I swap awkwardly between two systems depending on, basically, whether the PDF I am reading is short (Zotero) or long (Calibre).

Android tables

e.g. kindle fire A device for reading things.

How can I get my incoming articles on it? Also Built-in reader does not support PDF annotations. Sync to the device using a sync service of some kind, then read the PDFs using Acrobat? Maybe try xodo?

Paper reading and discovery