PRSonally Speaking

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An App Review for Read
by Ash Patel, MD
Read by QxMD
Read is billed as a personalized medical and scientific journal, which is a familiar concept for which those of you using apps like Flipboard or Zite.

Having looked at a stack of unread journals sitting in my office and wondering how I would find the time to discover other articles of interest to me, I was pleased to find this app that could curate articles for me.

One of my practice partners recently introduced me to the app Read by QxMD, and I was impressed by the way the app allowed me to quickly review a selection of articles from a variety of journals, and then e-mail selected articles to colleagues.

Read is a free iOS app (suitable for both iPhone and iPad), available via the App store. Once the app is started for the first time, it will prompt the user to create an account.  This allows the user to access their preferences and stored articles across devices. If your affiliated institution is listed, you will be able to use proxy access to download full text pdf files of the articles you want to view, assuming that your institution is a subscriber. During the setup process, you can select which journals to follow from either the A-Z list, or by searching for the name. PRS is one of the listed journals, as well as a number of other plastic surgery journals including specialty journals.

On the iPad, the home screen of the app has a control bar across the top, which allows the user to switch between featured articles, access to the most recent issues of your selected journals, and articles selected based on user defined keywords. The developers of the app state that they use a combination of machine learning, semantic analysis, crowd-sourcing and proprietary algorithms to figure out which articles should be featured for each individual user. Whilst I have found that the system is not perfect, in that I’ve seen several non-relevant articles on my list, I have also discovered several articles that were of great interest which were published in non-plastic surgery journals.

Tapping an article will download the full text pdf to read. The user can then swipe through the pages of the article, and can highlight or underline text, or add notes. By tapping the star icon, the article will be added as one of your favorites. It can be tagged with a keyword for easier retrieval at a later date.
Another nice feature is the ability to share the full text article on Facebook, Twitter or via email. If full text access isn’t available it is still possible to share the citation.

In summary, I think that Read is an extremely useful app to access full text articles from a variety of journals, and I’ve found the simple way the app enables me to share and save articles very convenient. I’ve been generally impressed by the how relevant the featured articles have been. Users who do not have institutional full text access will find the app much less helpful.
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