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Developer(s) Labtiva
Stable release
0.96.8013 / 05-2014
Operating system Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS
Available in English, additional language packs available
Type reference management software
License Proprietary
Website Readcube

ReadCube is a desktop and browser-based program for managing, annotating, and accessing academic research articles. It is proprietary, but available for free. Initially launched for 3 years in an open beta, it provides access to research materials through partnerships with several publishing companies including the Nature Publishing Group, Frontiers and John Wiley & Sons.[1] Articles are available for digital download and rental for 48 hours.[2]

ReadCube also allows users to enhance eligible PDF files with both the browser-based and desktop application. Once enhanced, articles have interactive citations, integrated authorial information, and access to stored supplements.[3] Additionally, users can highlight sections of documents and write notes saved within the client.[4]


ReadCube was created by Labtiva, a Boston-based company. A desktop client was publicly launched in October 2011 with investment from Digital Science,[5] a division of Macmillan Publishers. Shortly after, ReadCube Web Reader was integrated with the website of Nature in November 2011.[6] A pilot program for ReadCube Access was launched at the University of Utah in September 2012, followed by a public release on Nature Publishing Group journals in November 2012. Also in November 2012, version 2.0 of the Web Reader launched with a number of significant changes.[1] In February 2013, ReadCube launched across over 117 journals published by Wiley.[7]

In April 2014, Labtiva released ReadCube Pro and with it a new UI with several new features. Some of these features, including SmartCite - ReadCube's new citation and bibliography formatting tool, the inclusion of multiple highlighting colors, and several view options come for free with the new update. A few, including a cloud sync function which allows .PDF files to be synced across desktop machines or to the ReadCube iPad app, a metrics pane that shows where an article is being spoken about online, and a "Watched Folders" feature that automatically imports and indexes PDFs come only with ReadCube Pro. [8]

On 2 December 2014, Nature announced that it would allow its subscribers and a group of selected media outlets to distribute links providing limited "free" access to articles from its journals through ReadCube Web Reader. While it does, to an extent, provide free online access to articles, it is not a true open access scheme due to its restrictions on users' ability to download, copy, print, or otherwise distribute the content.[9][10]


ReadCube Desktop, running on Adobe Air, available for Windows and macOS.

  • Consolidated display of all imported articles into a library
  • Customizable lists to organize articles
  • Integrated search functionality with Google Scholar, PubMed, and Microsoft Academic to find and download new research material
  • Personalized recommendations of literature based on searches and library content
  • PDF viewer with notes and text highlighting
  • Supplements and references in one place
  • Full-text search across your entire PDF library
  • Hyperlinked references
  • Easily export citations to EndNote and other reference managers
  • Can sync your library between multiple devices
  • Can manually add and edit citation data
  • Can watch specific folders for changes & automatically import PDFs
  • SmartCite allows users to format citations and create bibliographies

ReadCube Web Reader, available on for articles published by Nature Publishing Group, Frontiers and John Wiley & Sons.

  • Fast viewing of article PDFs within the browser
  • Clickable in-line references with direct links to articles
  • Integrated view of the supplement, associated news, and editor’s comments
  • DOI lookup allows users to navigate directly to articles
  • Includes a ReadCube Bookmarklet, which sends articles from web browsers directly to the ReadCube desktop application
  • ReadCube Access provides options to buy or rent individual research articles

Notes and references[edit]

See also[edit]