Jeff Taekman’s Bookends/Highlights/Devonthink academic workflow

This came up on my feed today, and thought it might be of interest to some.

I am not sure I am convinced by his chopping up the entire article for devonthink (it seems pretty labour intensive and possibly redudant, despite some possible AI advantages). But great that he shared this with the world.


I agree. I think that for me for example I use PDF Expert to annotate PDF’s and then view those references on my iPad while writing on my Mac usually in DevonThink. His seems like so many steps that could be cut down.

The back and forth that is needed to use a citation manager + a PDF editor + a search engine is a royal PITA. I’ve not managed yet to solve this either.

An interesting comment appears if you read carefully: Jeff Taekman states that Bookends has better PDF annotation tools than Papers yet he uses Highlight to annotate. IOW … You can ignore one of his supposed reasons that he uses Bookends rather than Papers.


Ah I see, interesting

I might expand on the hardships of citation management for research as befits the comments about the need to use three or more apps or even two or more citation apps.

  • Every citation manager has its own approach to annotation tools and none are common enough to what are found in apps that are considered as dedicated PDF editors.
  • Some of the citation managers export notes well and others do not.
  • Some of the citation managers are cross platform and others are not.
  • Some of the citation managers have features to cross-search the database for comparable themes and some do not.
  • Most of the citation managers designed on macOS handle the demands to work effectively on iOS as somewhat of an afterthought.

Processing a journal article for research involves finding it from external sources (some of which may require special access privileges or protocols), reading it, making notes about it, and following threads that are comparable to it. It involves classifying and re-classify the notes to find common and disparate themes. It involves culling the articles for the wheat from the chaff. Finally, it may involve sharing across different OS platforms, and today it is more common to be done not only the desktop but also a tablet device.

In many respects, I wish that citation manager apps and markup apps and search engine apps would sit down together to define a common standard to transfer PDF files seemlessly among themselves on the desktop and tablet devices. Then, they could each focus on their core functionalities. As it is, we are instead sometimes faced with the plethora of choices, and we have to cobble together our own best path forward.