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digital organizing


oswic

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Hello all,

I've seen a fair amount of discussion about digital organizing on TGC. Having only used Word and Excel to organize my materials and work, I am excited to embrace technology more fully. That said, I can't see much difference between Mendeley, Papers2, or Zotero except money and preferred browsers. I'd prefer to read comments from graduate students in history on this topic because I think we might use these programs differently from those in natural sciences, professional degree program, etc.

So - Mendeley, Papers2, or Zotero? Also, I got a Mac and it comes with Open Office. Is there any reason to buy Word or is Open Office sufficient?

Many thanks!

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I have a convoluted system that's evolved over the years and will probably change when I start school again in the fall.

I actually haven't tried Mendeley, but I use both Papers2 and Zotero. Papers2 I use for organizing and reading articles in PDF form. Zotero I mostly use to keep track of non-PDF web sources, like newspaper articles, that I want to come back and read later or have bookmarked for reference. I'm a huge fan of Papers2 and the organization structure. I tend to have separate folders for each project I'm working one, another for theory and other articles I tend to reference frequently, and now one for POI whose work I'd like to read.

My favorite tool, though, is Evernote, which I use for pretty much everything, both academic and non-academic. I love it for outlining and brainstorming on the go (via my iphone) because everything is already back and waiting for me on my computer. It's also how I keep track of book recommendations, names of professors, or anything else that someone mentions in passing that I want to go back and look up later.

I've started buying a lot of books on Kindle, not only because they're usually cheaper, but also because the Kindle for Mac app is so great. It does a good job of organizing your notes and highlights, and I love that when you copy and paste a quotation, it automatically adds in a citation.

I've heard great things about DevonThink from other historians, but I haven't actually tried it yet.

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You might've seen this already, but Sigaba outlined a method for keeping track of research that seems intriguing (no use of any of the programs you mention, though). Here's a link:

I'd definitely be interested in hearing more about people's experiences with Zotero, Papers2, and the rest.

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You might've seen this already, but Sigaba outlined a method for keeping track of research that seems intriguing (no use of any of the programs you mention, though). Here's a link:

I'd definitely be interested in hearing more about people's experiences with Zotero, Papers2, and the rest.

I hadn't. Thank you for posting it here.

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@kotov -

Me too! But I'm starting capstone research soon and I'll be doing research in DC and in Wales and I'll need to find a new method. Shipping index cards = no fun, especially if you lose that one critical one.

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I'm poor, so #teamindexcards

A lot of these programs (like Zotero and Evernote) are free! Papers2 is reasonable w/ the student discount-- I think it's $30?

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I use Zotero to organize my research. It's free, and I've found a way to carry it with me everywhere - by carrying around a flash drive that has the Portable Apps version of Firefox on it, I can install the Zotero plugin to that browser and work in the software on any computer the same way I would at home. I use Zotero both to keep track of references and for the notes I take on sources. Zotero offers you the option to generate a report of each reference, so if I'm working on something and don't want to look at a computer screen for my sources I can have a sheet with all of the source's bibliographical information along with the notes I've taken on it (helps a lot for seminar discussions, too).

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I'm poor, so #teamindexcards

Me too, but not because I'm poor. I just think I'm borderline computer illiterate and won't be able to figure out how to use all of these complicated programs :unsure: But it's not the most efficient method, so I'm planning to make the transition to technology soon! *bookmarks thread*

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Three quick suggestions.

First, if you're going to make a transition from one method of organizing your materials to another, please consider the value of giving yourself plenty of time to design, to implement, and to tweak your new solution. Sometimes, what may seem like a small change can end up being a big drag on your time at the worst moment.

Second, please be mindful of the fact that software changes at an alarming rate. The solution you employ today may not be available three years from now. Google Desktop Search is no longer available because Google decided to chase the cloud. Also, some free software solutions may not be free down the road. So if you find software that works great for you, please consider the utility of archiving a copy of it, and understand that future versions of "free" software may not be as robust as previous iterations (Copernic desktop search comes to mind) and/or may not keep pace with upgrades to your computer's OS.

Third, if you use a detailed method of naming directories, folders, and sub-folders, please note that the length of your path/filenames may lead to hiccups when you're backing up your stuff.

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