Advanced search - Papers 3 for iOS

You can download the free Papers app for iPhone/iPad here.

Did you know you can search online repositories and filter your papers library in much more powerful ways than you might think? The possibilities we describe below are available in both search mode but also in the regular library mode (collections, labels, authors, and sources) using the search field at the top (read until the end to learn more).

Perform advanced search queries in search mode

You can search one or more online repositories in the search mode by simply entering your query in the search field. Every time you hit the enter key a so-called token is created:

You can enter multiple tokens in a row by typing your the first part of your query, hitting enter, typing the next part, etc:

Notice how the second token "2013" is automatically recognised as a year and receives the YR qualifier, this means that this query will search specifically for the year 2013, not the text 2013 in other metadata fields. This great improves the relevancy of results. Below we show how you can set these qualifiers yourself.


Note also that by default tokens are separated by the AND operator. You can enter your queries in one go (e.g polymerase chain reaction AND 2013) and Papers will automatically split them into separate tokens. Again. the AND operator will be hidden after splitting the tokens as these are implicit.

Papers also supports the OR and NOT operators to mark token as either optional or exclusive, respectively. You can insert these operators by either typing them (they need to be in uppercase) or selecting them from the popover that shows below the search field:

If you want to protect a query from being split into separate tokens, or have "2013" not be recognised as a year but as text, you can enclose the query in quotes:

Complex Queries

You will notice that the popover also has the ability to insert brackets (you can also simply type them in the search field). These allow you to build more complex queries:

Note that sometimes Papers inserts these automatically, this is to remove any ambiguity in your query. For example, the query Blue AND Red OR Green can be interpreted in two ways: Blue AND (Red OR Green) or (Blue AND Red) OR Green. If its not clear from the input Papers will insert a default set of brackets to choose one of the variants.


Earlier we already saw the YR qualifier appear. You can set these manually using the popover by clicking the field you want to limit the search with this token to:

Using manually typed qualifiers for faster and more advanced query building

Like with the operators (AND, OR, NOT), you can also type the qualifiers instead of selecting them from the popover

As shown above we support two formats, the google scholar format au:griekspoor and the pubmed syntax griekspoor[AU]. In both cases the au part indicates we want to search on author, and this is either prefixed with a colon or suffixed in between square brackets.

Not only can typing be faster, there's also a larger set of qualifiers you can use that is not accessible from the popover. The complete list of supported qualifiers can be found at the end of this document