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Best way to organize publications

  1. Jan 27, 2008 #1
    Dear friends,

    I am in my last year of my PhD and I want something that I really should have done a long time ago, I need some kind of database software so I can easily organize and find the many PDF articles that I have on my computer. I know that there are probably several out there I would just like to get y'alls opinion about which one you would recommend.

    PS: I know this is not necessarily aerospace or mechanical engineering specific but I am most likely to find like-minded people here.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2008 #2


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    That's a good question. I too have, conservatively, 1000 pdf's and other files I use for reference. I try to sort them into different folders based on topic. Other than that, I haven't found a decent way to have a handy reference for my references. I thought a searchable format like Excel would work, but it really wasn't for me.
  4. Jan 28, 2008 #3


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    I wrote a VB application with a MS Access database on the back-end, to handle all of my reference material (.pdf or whatever). All I have to do is place the document in the proper directory on my computer, then give it a title and the program will allow you to search for that document's title if you want it to.

    It's really easy to crank out something like that. The best part is the price...free! I suppose you could buy some high end document control system, we use Meridian at work. It does basically the same thing except it gives document previews and has security level access.

  5. Jan 29, 2008 #4
    Do I need to use VBA in Access or can I just use the standard form? It seems like this is a problem every researcher in the world is dealing with.
  6. Jan 29, 2008 #5


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    I suppose you could do it all in Access if you want to since VBA is almost identical to VB. It was just quicker for me to use VB on the front end and have a database on the back end.

  7. Jan 31, 2008 #6
    Hi all, first post!

    Anyway, I am in my first year as a PhD student and I would be interested in a more elegant way to organize this information as well.

    However, it seems like using an elaborate database one could end up spending more time than it is really worth. Do those of you who have created your own databases find it is helpful?

    Currently I use Google Desktop (GD) in combination with through naming and a folder hierarchy to keep track of my papers. Basically the folder trees keep things generally where I want them but I will use GD to find a paper quickly in a meeting and/or if I forget where I put it. It seems to work pretty well now, but I have only accumulated a 100 or so papers so far.
  8. Jan 31, 2008 #7


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    I never considered Google Desktop. Not all that familiar with how it works, but if it can perform searchs then it is probably a good alternative (assuming you have good file names).

    I suppose the additional benefit with a database is the extended search capabilities, and the ability (at least in my program) to enter additional "keywords" to aid in the search.

  9. Jan 31, 2008 #8
    I think I may find something like that useful down the road. Care to share perhaps?

    Google Desktop works pretty well if you configure it correctly. It indexes all the files directly connected to your PC and allows them to be searched. The best part is the quick launch, you press control twice and a search bar pops up in the middle of the screen and you just start typing. This can be used to open programs, search for files, or start a web search, very handy.

    I have found it the most useful if you don't allow it to index emails, web history, and some other things that I never use.

    You are correct though, naming files becomes very important, and having keywords is generally not possible (unless it is included in the filename).

    Ideally I would like a database that could provide a self-written summary of a publication when I bring up its information as well as bibliographic information/location.
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