However, recently there has been two new big contenders on the scene; Mendeley and EndNote. EndNote is well known and perhaps the original citation manager; however, they have been slow to release a dedicated iPad version.
This all changed recently with the release of EndNote for iPad. Read on to see how this app stacks up.
The first thing to mention is that the delay in finally getting an EndNote app has been worth the wait. On first impressions, the app is powerful and has plenty of features. Setting up EndNote is remarkably simple and accomplished by simply logging in to your EndNote Online account (free) and optionally linking EndNote to Dropbox.
The Dropbox integration is very useful as it allows you to import PDFs directly into the app. Once I had logged in, my saved articles all downloaded quickly and efficiently onto my iPad. The syncing works effectively and any references that I collected on my iPad were easily synced back onto the web and from there onto my Mac.
Like all mobile citation managers, EndNote is designed to be used independently of its desktop counterpart. However, it should be said that its functionality and utility is considerably reduced without the all important link to its big brother (although I cannot see anyone using this app without the desktop version).
In terms of managing references, it is easy to browse through existing references and make changes/notes to the citation as required. Articles stored in groups are displayed in a useful tabbed interface which allows you to quickly swap between options.
There is no direct ability to search for articles on Pubmed within the app; however, there is a built in web browser which you can use to navigate to articles of interest. If you come across a PDF that you want to download, you can download it within the app and it creates a new entry for that paper.
Unfortunately, there is no autofill ability like Mendeley or Zotero. This results in it being a manual entry job. There are straightforward search functions which allow you to find specific papers within your library. There are also options to arrange papers by author, title, date etc.
While the reference manager side of EndNote for iPad is powerful, one of the main reasons for using a mobile device is to read and annotate articles on the go. EndNote has a reasonable attempt at this and allows you to highlight text and draw using your finger/stylus.
However, this is pretty limited and you certainly cannot fit much annotation on the PDF itself. Perhaps unforgivably, there is no way to directly copy text from the PDF. This is immensely frustrating if you have downloaded a PDF off the internet and can’t remember the exact authors as you cannot copy and paste them directly from the PDF.
Furthermore, there is no way to add text-based notes to the PDF itself. One can only add text-based notes to the actual citation which is somewhat limiting. The result of all this means that the use of EndNote on the iPad is essentially limited to reading and highlighting PDFs rather than doing anything more with them. It is at least possible to export PDFs or open them in other apps which will allow you to annotate/copy further (although this does somewhat defeat the purpose of the app). The only way I managed to copy/paste was from the built in web browser.
Overall, this is a reasonable app with lots of features. However, there are other options that are better and easier to use. The biggest pull to use this is the fact that it syncs so seamlessly with the desktop version. This is a huge benefit if EndNote for Desktop is your preferred reference manager.
- Currently offered until 31 July at $0.99, normal price $9.99
- Robust sync function including Dropbox integration
- Easy to use user interface including tabbed browsing
- Limited ability to annotate PDFs or copy text
- EndNote for iPad is a powerful reference manager. At the end of the day, it is worth using whichever reference manager is linked to your desktop for ease of use. Users of EndNote will not be disappointed with this app as it has plenty of features and a robust sync function.
- Yes (if you use EndNote for Desktop)
Rating: (1 to 5 stars) 3.75 stars
User Interface: 4
Real world applicability: 5
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an inperson evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.