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Papers Solves PDF Problem

Though Penn State is better known for its engineering than its liberal arts, some of us have had more papers than final exams in the last week.

As diligent researchers, JSTOR is often the first place we search. For those of you who don’t know, JSTOR is a digital archive of scholarly journals. You can find articles there on everything from Jesus in Islamic art to string theory, but when you download them, you get PDFs with names like 192874.PDF. I know that my desktop is a mess right now with poorly labeled PDFs all over it.

@PSULibs tipped us off to a really cool program called Papers that solves this problem. Basically, Papers is iTunes for PDFs (though iTunes already handles PDFs, just not that well).

The New York Times blog The Wild Side elaborated on Papers.

The idea is that, when you download an article, it goes into your Papers library. The bibliographic information immediately appears; so does, if you’re lucky, the “metadata” — like the abstract and the list of subjects that the authors thought their article touches on. (I say “if you’re lucky” because this doesn’t always happen automatically.) The document itself gets neatly filed in a folder on your hard drive, and renamed by authors and year. Gone are the days of 456330a.pdf and sd-article121.pdf. Hallelujah.

We’re sold, except on the price. The NYT says that at $40, Papers is pretty cheap. Maybe they have forgotten what $40 is worth when one is in college (we’ve calculated its worth to be approximately six large Pokey Sticks). Maybe our friends over at ITS could make Papers part of the standard lab Mac software suite…

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About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.


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