Docear – The Academic Literature Suite

Docear is a unique solution to academic literature management, i.e. it helps you organizing, creating, and discovering academic literature. Among others, Docear offers:

  1. A single-section user-interface that allows the most comprehensive organization of your literature. With Docear, you can sort documents into categories; you can sort annotations (comments, bookmarks, and highlighted text from PDFs) into categories; you can sort annotations within PDFs; and you can view multiple annotations of multiple documents, in multiple categories – at once.
  2. A ‘literature suite concept‘ that combines several tools in a single application (pdf management, reference management, mind mapping, …). This allows you to draft your own papers, assignments, thesis, etc. directly in Docear and copy annotations and references from your collection directly into your draft.
  3. recommender system that helps you to discover new literature: Docear recommends papers which are free, in full-text, instantly to download, and tailored to your information needs.

And did we mention that Docear is free, open source, available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, not evil (open data formats such as BibTeX and XML, no registration required, no lock-in), and offers PDF metadata retrieval, free online-backup of your mind-maps, a monitoring function for new files (PDFs, images, etc.), a free MS-Word add-on, …?



Look at the feedback that we received during the past years, it’s highly positive. You will notice that the feedback is not the typically “yeah, great software, thx”. Instead, most of our users are really blown away by how Docear helps them with their literature management. Feel free to read more testimonials, and after you have used Docear for a while, write your own testimonial (and yes, we also publish critical opinions).


The screenshot shows PDFs and annotations being sorted into the research categories a user created. In addition, bibliographic data for the selected annotation is displayed. The next screenshot shows the draft of a new paper including some examples for LaTeX formulas, notes, formatted text, etc. Docear’s menu is hidden to maximize the space for your work. Screenshot of the draft of a new paper

Compare Docear

We wrote a comprehensive Blog post that compared Docear with Mendeley and Zotero and that should help you to decide which reference manager is best for you. The essence is summarized in the following table. If you are interested in more details, read the full article.

Please note that the developers of all three tools constantly improve their tools and add new features. Therefore, the table might be not perfectly up-to-date. In addition, it’s difficult to rate a particular functionality with only one out of three possible ratings (yes; no; partly). Therefore, we highly suggest to read our detailed review, which explains in detail the rationale behind the ratings.


The people behind Docear

We – the Docear team – are a group of students, postdocs, and professors around the globe (mostly from the Information Science Group at the University of Konstanz, Germany, the OvGU in Magdeburg, and UC Berkeley). We have been developing Docear for several years, and are closely cooperating with other open source projects such as Freeplane and JabRef. If you want to join, you are sincerely welcome. Read more…