I need some software to help with the kind of research I perform in graduate school, including my upcoming dissertation, as well as for research I will continue to conduct after I graduate. I've tried and failed to get this functionality on other platforms before (e.g. the iRex iLiad), but hope springs eternal, right? I'm hoping the Android environment will be more conducive to this kind of development than other platforms have been.
Here's a typical example of what happens in my graduate classes now, and how I work with paper:
- Instructor assigns journal articles and/or books for reading
- I read the documents/books and make notes. I write in the margins of printed PDFs or photocopies, and mark the edges with sticky tabs for key points. I don't write in books, but I do use stickies and write notes on them. (I would scribble on PDFs in a reader. I just can't bring myself to do it with a printed book.)
- In class, I need to be able to discuss key points from the readings (usually several books/documents), flipping back and forth between them at will. I need to be able to find particular passages in readings quickly.
- I also need to be able to take class notes at the same time.
- Several times per semester, I need to be able to pull together references from readings that I've selected previously, with locations and my notes about the references, for constructing research papers.
That last one will be one of the most critical needs, and the hardest to meet. I think it will require a reading app that has the following features:
* Read PDF, txt, rtf, html, and (perhaps with conversion) doc
* Store metadata for each document sufficient for generating MLA and APA formatted references (i.e. author, title, year of publication, publisher, etc)
* For paginated documents, maintain awareness of original pagination. The easiest way to do this is probably to ensure half-page views of PDF, e.g. A5 size screen, with automatic page panning. Also allow entry of a start page offset number.
* While reading a document, the reader should be able to:
o highlight text for quotes, with topic free-tagging
o make notes (e.g. in margins), also with topic free-tags
* Export mode allows selection of specific topic tags, and within those tags, specific entries may be selected/unselected
* Export mode produces output list of all comments and quotes with MLA or APA formatted references
* Bonus: include a decent RTF (at least) text editor so drafts can be created or edited on the device. (No, I would not write my dissertation on a portable tablet or whatever, but I do tend to like to shuffle around quotes and structure outlines while in a café or whatever.)
I'd like to get together and collect a bounty to develop software like this. Anyone else interested?
More (old) threads discussing these ideas here: