Updating references in google doc while collaborating

I’m having trouble updating references in google docs. Some references that were initially in press are now published and I wish to update the citation information accordingly. I have successfully updated the reference in my library. However, the changes do not propagate to the google document, which still reflects the out-of-date information. I think the problem is that there are two users inserting references. So I think paperpile has created local copies of the reference. If I delete the reference and try to insert from scratch, the only reference available is the one already in the document - I don’t get an option to insert the updated reference from my library. The work around seems to be to insert the corrected reference into a entirely new document, and then copy and paste the citation into my main document. however, this is obviously not a very elegant solution. Alternatively, I have to update each reference manually within the document. Am I missing something or doing something wrong?

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There are a few things going on here.

When a paper is cited in a document a copy of that paper is added to a document-specific library of papers, a bit like a hidden shared folder. The papers in the document-specific library are linked to the library which originally added the paper and will reflect any changes made to them there (with an exception which I will get to below).

It sounds like your collaborator has added the paper, which would explain why it does not get updated when you update the reference in your own library. Furthermore, you cannot add your own copy because we de-duplicate the search results and give preference to papers already in the document.

There are two ways to solve this problem, both of which use the “Paperpile --> View all references” link in the google docs menu.

  1. You can edit the citation information manually in that page. This will unlink the paper from whichever library added it and so any changes made in the original library will no longer affect the reference in the document.

  2. You can remove all citations for the reference from the document body, then also delete the paper from the “View all references” list. This will allow you to add the paper anew from your own library.

I suggest the second option for papers which need to have their metadata extensively updated, but it also includes more labor in terms of removing and reinserting the citations. The “View all references” page will also tell you who added the paper, so it could be easier to ask your colleague to update the references in her/his library.

Thanks Jason.

Would it be possible to automatically update the reference information in the view all references page by e.g. pressing shift A? Why does it have to be manual?

You wrote:
“Furthermore, you cannot add your own copy because we de-duplicate the search results and give preference to papers already in the document.”

I do not understand this at all. Preference should always be given to the judgement of the person editing the document. If I find a paper that is better than the one already in the document, I should be able to replace it. This is a major flaw in the system, given that paperpile is supposed to aid collaboration, not hinder it. Why not give the person inserting the references the choice of continuing to use the paper already in the document or to replace it with a better citation?

Replacing an existing reference by a collaborator has not been a major use case. As far as I know it has never been brought up before. After all it has a solution by deleting and re-inserting it. On the other hand, duplicates were a huge problem in the beginning and the filter turned out to be a good solution.

hi Stefan. Thanks a lot for your and Jason’s responses. I guess deleting the reference and re-inserting is a good workaround but it’s a bit of a faff if the reference occurs in many places in a long document. Why not just warn the user when there is a duplicate and give them the option of which duplicate to keep? So at the insert citation stage, you get the option of using the citation already in the document but why not give the user the option of replacing the citation already in the document with a citation from his library?

Another alternative is to allow the user to manually edit the paper details within the document (I believe there is a view all papers option). but currently this does not allow a user to automatically update the citation details using the PMID (shift A only works in the paperpile library). Instead it seems each detail has to be manually changed.

Anyway, thanks for a lovely tool. Paperpile is fantastic otherwise!

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