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I'm entering lit review mode, and am thinking about how to best set up my organization system. Do you print a hard copy of every journal article in your "bibligraphy library"? Or do you just keep an electronic copy of each pdf?

I can read hard-copy materials easier than a computer screen (less strain on my eyes & nice to get away from the computer sometimes), and enjoy highlighting parts of articles that are most interesting/pertinent, but it seems unwieldy to somehow put all of those hundreds of (eventual) journal articles in a hard-copy binder and keep them organized...

I have heard of some PhD students that have their entire bibliography in a long electronic list, then they just pick & choose which documents are going to be in a particular bibliography that they're using for a journal article they're trying to publish... Have also heard of biblio mgmt software that helps with this such as BookEnds, EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero, etc...

Thoughts? What works for you? Thanks!

Edited by iowaguy
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Can you use that Zotero/PDF-XChange setup with some sort of a tablet (kindle, etc) so it's easier on the eyes? I just can't imagine staring at a standard computer screen for hundreds of hours of lit review... Your eyes are probably much younger than mine :)

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I can't get away from print copies. I just do much more in depth markup on them, for some reason. I try to limit the amount of trees I kill, but I have unlimited printing and copying in my department, so there's no financial downside, per-se.

I use Endnote to categorize all my papers (hundreds), with subcategories for type, and for anything I'm writing with them.

I use GoodReader on my iPad with dropbox to view them, but for those key papers either for manuscripts I'm writing or for work I want to build on, I print copies, heavily mark them up, and keep them in binders on the shelf in my office.

There are a few great past threads on different bibliography management systems as well.

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I have mine by project, mostly.

And then within each project, I organize mine by Endnote ID. It's arbitrary, but it's based on when I found/imported the article. And I can usually remember that better than the year. And it's easy to look up when I want to find something fast.

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For years, I used EndNote, but 3 years ago I switched to Papers both to organize, read, and annotate my PDFs (currently over 3,000) and as a citation manager. However, I still have EndNote and I still create new, individual EndNote libraries for specific projects. But Papers really is a one-stop shop when it comes to both PDFs and citation management. It has Mac, PC, iPad, and iPhone apps that allow you to sync your library between devices. If you're in the market for a PDF organizer or citation manager, I would recommend at least taking a look at it.

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Would you mind expounding on why you like Papers more? I've been considering giving it a try, but the reviews on the iPad app seem pretty bad, and it didn't look like the desktop versions had any functionality that Endnote doesn't, so I'd love to hear from someone who used both.

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Eigen, I don't know if you're on Mac or PC but either way, just download the trial version and give it a shot. Obviously one's choice of a citation manager or applications in general is very subjective, but you really should try it out to see what it can do rather than me just listing features. Since it started out at a PDF manager, it far exceeds EndNote in that capacity, including in terms of internal search/import of databases, Google Scholar, and Amazon. Also, EndNote, for me, has serious GUI issues having not fundamentally changed much since pre-X PC versions. I haven't used the iPad app yet but I have used it for iPod and that one worked fine. If you're even slightly considering it, definitely give the trial a chance.

Edited by natsteel
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Can you use that Zotero/PDF-XChange setup with some sort of a tablet (kindle, etc) so it's easier on the eyes? I just can't imagine staring at a standard computer screen for hundreds of hours of lit review... Your eyes are probably much younger than mine :)

My eyes are not that young lol. Depending on the tablet (like an Android tablet) you should not have any trouble doing that... Zotero has an Android app and it can be managed online too, and you can use the kindle/pdf reader to mark up your pdfs.

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