Why web startups for researchers should charge their users

Free hugs and deluxe hugs. Image source: imgur.com

Last week Impactstory announced their new paid subscription model. Changing a service from free to paid is a big step and there was some discussion on Twitter about it. We decided from day one to run Paperpile as a paid subscription service and only had good experiences with this model so far.

We are lucky to be in a position that we don’t have to write this post to convince our users that paying for Paperpile is a good idea. They found out by themselves. But we want to take the opportunity to share our experiences and encourage other startup companies in our space to follow the example of Impactstory. We’ve found that charging for our product is good for us and our users. Here’s why.

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Improved Google Docs citations with Paperpile

Google docs citations

When we started Paperpile at the end of last year, our goal was to make Google Docs a first class tool to write academic papers. Earlier this year, we were excited to see the first papers that were entirely written in Google Docs and Paperpile  to be accepted for publication. Students have written their thesis with Paperpile and we know of users who have started writing books in Google Docs.

However, some missing features made it hard for some users to fully switch. With some recent additions to Google Docs and Paperpile, these limitations are gone.  5 key updates make it easier than ever to use Google Docs to write your next report, paper, thesis or book.

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Google Docs in the University: a Q&A with students from UCC Hillerød, Denmark

Students editing collaboratively a Google Doc

Mathias, Morgan, Francis, and Stasa collaborated on their thesis project using Google Docs and Paperpile.

Soon after our launch in October 2013 we were contacted by a group of students from UCC Hillerød, Denmark about using Paperpile to write their final thesis project in Google Docs. Since they would only be using Paperpile for a few months, we created a special short-term group license for them and left them to their work.

A few months later we noticed a sudden spike in usage from Denmark, with a few users furiously adding citations and formatting their documents late into the night for days on end. Immediately we knew: our plucky group of students were wrapping up their thesis, using Google Docs and Paperpile to get things ready to print before the Christmas holidays!

We recently caught up with Mathias, Stasa, Morgan and Francis to congratulate them on their successful project and ask a few questions about their experience writing a group project with Paperpile.

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What if creationists like your paper about evolution?

Institution of Creation research

Recently, my last paper that I have worked on before I started Paperpile was finally published. I’m quite happy with the work because it brings together my favourite topics: RNAs, genomes and evolution. Unfortunately, I did not have much time following up on the reception of the paper. However, there was at least one review on the web I did not miss.

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Walking through a Digital Memorial: the #pdftribute PDFs

 

Aaron Sartz #pdftribute photomosaic

Aaron Swartz was a vocal proponent of a free and open Internet and a staunch believer in open access. His Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, written in 2008, is just as powerful and relevant to the world of academic publishing today as it was 6 years ago.

A little over a year ago, the Internet began mourning the loss of this well-loved entrepreneur and pioneer. Tech-savvy academics were shocked by Aaron’s death; some were upset at the handling of his legal case while others called on universities to respond by doubling down on open access to the scientific literature. Meanwhile, the news media were left struggling to explain just what JSTOR was and why Aaron was potentially facing years in prison for downloading a bunch of PDFs.

And then, academics joined together worldwide in a small act of defiant tribute.

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Feature update: Share papers with your colleagues

Sharing papers in Paperpile

We’re excited to start start the new year with a big Paperpile update, launching one of our most frequently requested features: sharing papers.

As with our other features, we thought carefully about the problem to find a solution that’s simple, powerful, and integrates naturally with your workflow. So we added a variety of functions that make it easy to share papers with your colleagues: Email papers directly from Paperpile, quickly share papers with anyone through a private link, collaborate on a shared folder with other Paperpile users, and share references with your co-authors while writing a paper in Google Docs.

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Making friends with linked data

Linking between publishers and databases

One thing that the Internet couldn’t live without is links. In fact, the Web is pretty much defined as a collection of links between virtual resources, and a fundamental part of good web citizenship is providing links to related pieces of content. Helpful, working links are vital to the health of the web.

So it goes with papers. In today’s complex ecosystem of academic publishing, a single research project may yield several distinct web-based outputs: a preprint manuscript here, peer-reviewed paper here, and dataset over there. The ease with which an author can now disseminate her different research outputs is incredible. With sites like Arxiv, Figshare, Dryad and the nascent Peerage of Science, your data, figures, and manuscripts can live in many different places on the road toward publication.

However, a healthy Web doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy Web for scientists. If websites and search engines aren’t providing the links you need to effectively mine the literature, you’re stuck. Which is why for this post, we stepped into the world-wide web for research and asked whether our papers are getting the links that we, as authors and readers, deserve.

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The beauty of scientific papers – Design trends of the past 350 years

Reading blogs about scientific publishing can be a sobering experience. Peer review is broken; publishers are evil; papers are evaluated by the wrong metrics; and the data is probably faked anyway.

The positive moments are too easily forgotten. For one, there is the initial relief when you first submit your paper. Suddenly, your vague ideas or unsolved problems from a year ago have materialized into something substantial, something worth communicating to the world. And of course, there’s the excitement when your paper finally gets accepted for publication.

But this post is about another, more subtle happy moment in the lifecycle of a paper: it’s that email you get, when the production team sends you a PDF and you first see your paper in its typeset form. This the final form with which your work will enter the scientific record. And, it’s beautiful!

We believe that a scientific paper can be a thing of beauty in its own right. Which is why for our inaugural post, I opened the archives and took a closer look at the design trends and beautiful papers from the past 350 years.

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