I am reading and trying to organize about 200 papers as part of my dissertation research. I have almost all of them as PDF files, and I would not be printing them, except that I need to be able to annotate them easily and the Adobe Acrobat software is not really ideal.

I’ve been looking for a way to store all the PDF files for the papers on the Internet and annotate them while the papers are online. Then, from any location (school, home, a conference, or wherever) I could log in, and continue reading where I left off. If I had the ability to add keywords, notes, and a citation in addition to basic annotation tools (pen tools, highlighting tools, etc) then that would be perfect.

My search has yielded several “almosts” but no homerun.

Screencast – I can upload PDF files here, and save keywords and descriptions with the files, but they can’t be annotated without downloading the files (and then reuploading the files). Can’t we just add the SnagIt tools to Screencast?

PDF Hammer – I can upload PDF files here, and it’s a really nice interface, but there is no ability to annotate the files with highlighting or handwritten notes while they are online. You can “upgrade” to the professional version (called nitro), but as far as I can tell, you still have to edit the files offline and then reupload them.

Adobe Acrobat – My recent experience is with Acrobat 8 (9 just came out). Acrobat can do the annotation of pdf files, but the tools are clunky and its all offline – I like the tools on Windows Journal a lot better for annotation (it’s what I use in class with my tablet). Why can’t I do all of this on the web?

Windows Journal – great annotation tools, but it’s not online, it’s not cross-platform, and it doesn’t print to PDF properly (see previous post).

If we had my wished-for online PDF editor, we could also post a PDF version of a paper and have all of the students make notes and annotate it as they read it. Students would benefit from seeing each other’s comments and learn from each other’s note-taking habits.

Know of something that satisfies all the requirements?
1. Highlighting tools
2. Hand-written notes (from tablet input)
3. PDF files
4. Keywords
5. Text-based notes
6. Space for citation
7. Folders to organize files in
8. All of this is accessed online without downloading the document

Please let me know!

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