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How do you organize academic papers?

  1. Mar 25, 2012 #1
    I have many papers in pdf form and fail at organizing them in a way I can find them efficiently. Any suggestions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2012 #2


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    I organize them by journal and/or topically.
  4. Mar 26, 2012 #3
    You're kidding, right? Are you really so lame that you can't organize the stuff that you download? I don't think so, or you wouldn't bother downloading the stuff. Just give it some thought. You'll figure out a system that works for you.
  5. Mar 26, 2012 #4
  6. Mar 26, 2012 #5
    I use JabRef to manage a big BibTex data base. You can search for authors and keywords in there. You can also link to the PDF and open the PDF with a click.

    Occasionally I create an overview LaTeX document that lists the important papers of a given subject with link to either the PDF or the DOI.

    Any papers I write directly use the big database. JabRef can use the .aux file to extract the cited entries from the big data base into a smaller file. This is useful when you exchange files with co-authors.

    JabRef is on Windows. On Linux is usally just use emacs to edite the .bib directly.
  7. Mar 26, 2012 #6
    Try this; rename the file with the following order of strings: journal, a summary that's meaningful to you, then an author.

    For example:

    The author is optional; you could use a date instead.
  8. Mar 26, 2012 #7
    Not really lame at all when you have 1000+ papers (and many multidisciplinary). Finding a single paper you know about is not really that difficult with a naming system, but being able to search by keywords or areas would be extremely beneficial for me. I'm going to take a look at some of the suggestions. I think it would be great if there was something out there that allowed you to tag papers with keywords, author, journal, year, etc when you save them and allow you to search using these tags.
  9. Mar 27, 2012 #8
    With BibTeX all that information goes into the database and is not attached directly to the PDF. If you use LaTeX, I think that is the way to go, and you can then choose any front-end to the database (which is a simple ASCII file) you like. Bibtex is flexible in the sense that you can add tags to the database that are non-standard, e.g. a keywords or pacs tag. Title, author(s), journal, volume, year, and pages are standard. Phys Rev or Web of Science allow you to download Bibtex entries in text format, sometimes including the text of the abstract which takes care of most keywords. The DB being a simple text file it is easy to search with or without a front end. This works great cross-systems (Windows/*ux)

    The pain is building the database for 1000+ papers. My approach is to do this as I go along, when I cite a paper it is added to the DB. I have not counted the entries, but there must be 1000+.

    If you use Word, then BibTeX will not work for you.
  10. Apr 7, 2012 #9


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    That's not correct. There is a plugin bibtex2word which works quite well. I use it when I have to edit word documents. Jabref and bibtex is also my preferred system.
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