Papers Online: What you need to know

What are Shared Collections?

Shared Collections in Papers Online work a little differently to your regular collections. Here's what you need to know.


Each Shared Collection has a URL. Anyone who has this URL can access the Shared Collection. This makes it extremely easy to set up semi-private shares. Here are some ideas of what you can do with Shared Collections:

  • Circulate a Shared Collection for use within your lab
  • Start one for a Journal Club
  • Put one together to compile the references for that next great paper with your collaborators around the world.
  • Start one for a certain topic, and share that URL on Twitter so everyone can join in.
  • Start one for the reading material for a university course. Students will be able to see the list online, or in Papers.

But this flexiblity means that you should be careful to whom you give the URL. Anyone you invite will be able to invite other users, and modify the collection.

Sharing Metadata

Everyone in the Shared Collection shares the same metadata (the title, author list, etc.). Changes made by one
user will be visible by everyone else.

PDFs do not get shared, but Papers will try and find the right PDF. This means if a paper is paywalled then your collaborators will need subscriptions in order to read it. However, if you download a "green" open access version such as an author-archived or PubMedCentral version, then a link to that PDF will remain associated with the paper for other viewers of the Shared Collection.

Papers 3 and Shared Collections

Shared collections appear in their own section in the Papers client. They will be visible in Papers when you are offline, but you need to be online to make changes.

Papers in a Shared Collection are not in your library, but they can be copied to your library.
If you copy a publication from one Shared Collection to another, it will create a copy.

What is the Reading List?

The Reading List is a private collection with the online advantages of a Shared Collection. It offers a way to gather papers of interest to you and rapidly get them in and out of your library. Here are several ideas for working with the Reading List:

  • Drag copies of the references you currently need to know about to the Reading List. When you log in to they will be available.
  • Point your browser at and add URLs of interest directly to the Reading List. They will be available in Papers when you get back to your main computer.
  • Use the browser extension (coming soon) to rapidly add many references to the Reading List. When you get back to Papers, you can quickly import the ones
    you really want and trash the rest.

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