Basic InfoScreenshot of the main tabbed GUI pane, showing the Local Guest Library tab:
(Image 01. Click image to enlarge.)Qiqqa - Reference Management System - Mini-ReviewIntro:
On 2012-11-04, I made this comment in a discussion thread Re: organize data for research
- Reference Management software: There is good software in this category that could be seriously useful in research work. For example:
- so this is the belated review of Qiqqa.Summary description of Qiqqa:
Qiqqa contains everything you essentially need for the five stages of commercial or academic research work/projects:
- 1. Organize
- 2. Discover
- 3. Review
- 4. Collaborate
- 5. Create
Most of these projects require collecting and reading a large number of papers or "knowledge items" - sometimes thousands of documents. The sheer volume of these documents can sometimes make it difficult to work with them, sift through them, and keep things under control.
Qiqqa was designed with this task in mind, and it has these main features to help you keep those documents under control and to keep your knowledge expanding coherently:
1. Comprehensive PDF document management.
- 1. Comprehensive PDF document management.
- 2. The ability to import documents to the Qiqqa library/database.
- 3. OCR of imaged documents, with capture of text contained in any imaged PDF documents.
- 4. Automatic collection/creation of metadata for the documents.
- 5. "Super Tag" functionality to categorise and cross-reference your document content.
- 6. Sophisticated Find/Search functionality.
- 7. Ability to export the contents of your Qiqqa library/database.
- 8. Knowledge analysis/discovery.
- 9. Research web browser.
- 10. Brainstorming (Mindmaps).
- 11. Knowledge-linking.
2. The ability to import documents to the Qiqqa library/database.
- Qiqqa becomes the main library stock control for all your PDF documents.
- You can add PDFs into Qiqqa libraries as you find them, rapidly search and find them in your libraries when you need them, and read and work with them via Qiqqa.
- You can create as many libraries in Qiqqa as you need for keeping your work categorised/segmented.
- Qiqqa can handle thousands of PDFs within each library.
- Document previews are provided without opening them, for fastest visual searches.
- You can have a bird's eye view of each library before you dip in.
- You can quickly spot and access recently-added documents, or those that the Qiqqa algorithms suggest that you may need to read next.
- You can generate "vanilla references" (metadata) for PDF documents that you don’t yet have, but want to add a reference for in anticpation. As and when you get the document at a later date, you can attach it to the metadata.
- Automatic duplicate detection alerts ensure that, however large your library, you don't end up with the otherwise inevitable collection of duplicate papers from different sources.
- Import all your PDFs to the Qiqqa library from your drive in one go, or drag and drop them at any time.
- Import from other programs - e.g., import all your existing papers and references from Mendeley™, Zotero™, EndNote™, or Jab Ref - or any other program that can export to BibTeX format.
- Automatically import documents from your hard drive by setting-up a "watch folder" to have any new PDFs automatically imported - e.g., your internet browser download folder location, or a university network share, or similar.
The imported/copied source PDF documents are stored/scanned/indexed in folders in the Qiqqa databases
subfolder. This subfolder is either in the default location or a location assigned by the user, as here:
The folders/documents in this subfolder are easily accessible and do not appear to be held in or constrained by a proprietary database - (say) a structured SQL database (as, for example, in SharePoint).3. OCR of imaged documents, with capture of text contained in imaged documents.
4. Automatic collection/creation of metadata for the documents.
- Optical character recognition is useful for any PDFs that are essentially a collection of images of text. No program can otherwise search their text, or allow you to copy and paste, without OCR.
- Without OCR, the knowledge value contained in an imaged PDF is thus effectively locked away.
- Qiqqa comes with an automatic and powerful built-in OCR functionality (unlike many/most other reference management systems). You can then perform fast full-text searches of such documents, get automatic abstracts, keyword extraction, and so forth.
5. "Super Tag" functionality to categorise and cross-reference your document content.
- The key to harnessing the knowledge contained in your documents is accurate metadata (title, author, publication, etc.). Unfortunately, PDFs very often come with poor metadata, if any. Qiqqa tackles this problem head on.
- If your document contains no metadata at all, Qiqqa looks for text items that look like the title/author/year, and uses that automatically, so you don’t have to type it in - the metadata is auto-populated.
- Qiqqa employs the metadata standard BibTeX. It is extensively used in Qiqqa. For those familiar with using BibTeX, this will be a boon. For those unfamiliar with BibTeX, you’ll find it relatively easy to learn to use with Qiqqa’s BibTeX metadata editor.
- Qiqqa employs a BibTeX metadata sniffer, and can automatically search Google Scholar for the correct metadata, and then import it directly. If you have downloaded (say) 50 papers, but none of them have metadata, then filling this in by hand would take ages. Qiqqa enables you to import a collection of documents and have them OCRed and metadataed in a relatively very short time.
- Alongside the metadata are your own attributes and notes, so you can keep track of your thoughts and progress on individual papers with document attributes.
6. Sophisticated Find/Search functionality.
- Tags are a convenient and quick way of grouping documents. You can add tags to any document, and then subsequently use the Tag Explorer to navigate to them quickly.
- If your documents are already in a neat directory structure on your hard drive, then Qiqqa can use those folder names as tags. Tags can also be made from PDF keywords.
- Qiqqa learns what your documents are about, and can auto-tag them for you so you don’t have to. You can even give it hints about which tags to include/exclude.
- Most applications only support “flat” tags. Qiqqa allows you to drill down a nested tag hierarchy when finding documents - e.g., those tagged “History”, then only those tagged with “history” and “middle ages”, then only those tagged with “history” and “middle ages” and “France”.
- Tags can apply to annotations too, and will show up in the Tag Explorer.
7. Ability to export the contents of your Qiqqa library/database.
- You can carry out full-text searches across your entire library using a sophisticated built-in search engine.
- Results are ranked, and shown directly in your library screen, with previews.
- "Google-like" searches: most applications can only search for the literal letters you’re searching for. Qiqqa looks similar to Google Search, so you can use wildcards, fuzzies, looking for words near other words, and of course Booleans (e.g., "fried green" NOT tomatoes).
- You can combine your search queries across multiple aspects to filter your library and hone in on your target, and then, if necessary, sort those results (or your entire library) to find the exact item.
8. Knowledge analysis/discovery.
- Qiqqa is designed to avoid lock-in. You can export your entire library to a combined BibTeX file for import elsewhere. All your PDFs are included with smart links in an html page, so you can easily access them by tag, author, and title, even without Qiqqa.
- You can also backup a snapshot of all your Qiqqa work at any time to a portable .ZIP archive file - could be useful, for example, if you want to establish a recoverable backup breakpoint prior to making big changes in the database content.
Qiqqa contains some unique tools to help you to:
- discover new papers to read
- discover information about papers you already have
- discover where to focus your efforts
You can carry out a Library Analysis using Qiqqa's unique ability to harness the latest in computational linguistic algorithms. Qiqqa Expedition™
automatically breaks your library into themes so that you can quickly get up to speed with and better understand your field of research. You can use Expedition whilst you are new to a field, and later when you want to make sure that you have cited all the relevant papers in each area.
You can view your Expedition results across your entire library, with easy access to the documents you discover or that you’d like to delve into some more.9. Research web browser.
10. Brainstorming (Mindmaps).
- The integrated Qiqqa web browser is honed for one specific task - research.
- You can easily search multiple academic search engines at once to discover new papers. If you locate a useful PDF, then you can import it into your library (with original download location already set in the metadata) in one click.
- You can drag URLs or images directly from webpages into your brainstormed mindmap (see below). If you prefer, Qiqqa can use your default browser instead.
- Whether you're planning a project, organizing exam materials, or making notes as you research, you can keep your ideas and thoughts from getting lost by arranging them into a brainstormed mindmap.
- Nodes in the mindmap can be files, images, text, documents or internet links. They can be linked and rearranged, and you can zoom in and out for the right level of detail.
- Because it is integrated directly within Qiqqa, PDFs can be dragged into your mindmap, and later you can click back to that original document.
- It also allows you to easily explore your library, mapping related documents as you go, which can reveal undiscovered links between documents, authors, and topics.
- You can associate document concepts by quickly finding out which terms (keywords) and themes dominate a paper. Clicking on a keyword will jump to all instances of that in the library.
- You can easily view other relevant documents in your library by theme, or author.
- You can discover new documents and similar papers in your field. If you decide that you might want to read, then you can jump to them using Google Scholar, and then easily import them into your library.
- You can use Qiqqa's informative graphs to help you visually discover how your work effort varies across time, how your tags are distributed, and so on.
- Qiqqa can automatically help you to find and navigate to cross references in your library - referencing other papers in your library - so you can jump from one to the other.
_____________________________________Who this app is designed for:
Information junkies generally, and specifically people who are engaged in commercial or academic research work/projects - knowledge workers.The Good:
The needs improvement section:
- An amazingly powerful information management and reference management tool.
- Automates a large portion of the slog and difficult info management tasks.
- Incredibly effective in what it does (I am still learning to use it and putting it through its hoops).
- I am using it together with Calibre, which has some overlap with Qiqqa, but the two generally seem to complement each other.
- Good GUI ergonomics.
- Excellent alignment with typical knowledge worker needs and processes.
Probably not something that can be improved upon very easily: like the library manager Calibre, the main observation I have here is that when I initially gave Qiqqa a very large library to start with, it hogged a lot of the CPUs in my Intel i7 processor. This was due to it undertaking large-scale OCR processing of imaged documents. However, it did not freeze the system, as CPU utilisation can be limited to, for example just one or two CPUs.Why I think you should use this product:
Seems to be an excellent product.
If you are an information junkie, or are engaged in commercial or academic research work/projects - e.g., a knowledge worker - then this is arguably a must-have piece of software - it could be the proverbial answer to a maiden's prayer.How does it compare to similar apps.:
I have no useful basis of experiential comparison as, though I have trialled several other reference management systems, none of them seem to come close to Qiqqa. One system that I found similarly very good was Calibre - though it is a library management system - i.e., quite a different breed of cat.
There is a good info source in Wikipedia: Comparison of reference management softwareConclusions:
Links to other reviews of this application:
- An excellent and highly sophisticated piece of software, excellent fit for purpose, and well-supported by its developer.
- I was and still am rather blown away with what this software did/does, and how well it does what it does. Regular updates and improvements by the developer keep this tool on the leading edge.
- Some users may find that Qiqqa has a steepish learning curve before they can make optimum use of this sophisticated software tool, but they will probably find it is worth the effort.
- Very impressive, and I have kept it as my main reference management system, used in conjunction with Calibre.
- Ability to automatically "pull" metadata from many different sources is very useful.