Thoughts, writing & snippets

Marguerite Koole, PhD

Mendeley – Phenomenal tool for keeping track of references

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies · Tags: , , ,

A friend, Jeffrey, Tweeted about Mendeley. So, I watched the video while getting ready to start working through my proposal today.

Phenomenal. I’ve been trying to keep my library synchronized across computers. I’ve been using Windows Desktop Search to locate them on my hard drive while writing. But, I fear it slows my system. I have been carefully organizing all my PDFs and notes into topic folders. But, the problem is that they belong in multiple folders. To solve that problem, I have been using tags in RefWorks. (And, of course, I have been keeping paper copies filed by author’s last name in a filing cabinet in my office.) As a result, I have been constantly cross-searching different systems. This has been working, but I think Mendeley might make things even more efficient.

Although Mendeley indicates that you can Import and Export with other referencing software, it does not mention Refworks. Good news: I was able to export a .txt file from Refworks and upload it into my Mendeley interface. Then, I was able to synchronize it online.

The synchronization feature is brilliant because it means that I can install the Mendeley interface on my travel computer or any other computer and synchronize the references with those computers. No more carting around USB drives and carefully dating the most recent list.

My only problem now, is to upload the articles. I have been careful to upload the URLs for journal articles, but I want easy access to my library from anywhere in the world. I can match the PDFs with the citations on my less productive hours. Mendeley is not intended as a publishing tool, but a resource-networking tool. I will investigate this further as I wish to respect copyright legislation.

Note that Mendeley also allows you to search through others’ reference lists, connect with other researchers, etc. Hence, it also serves as a social networking tool.

I have yet to explore it further.

Back to writing!

One Response to “Mendeley – Phenomenal tool for keeping track of references”

  1. Pat says:

    A couple of comments:

    1) I don’t keep paper copies anymore. I found I was using my notes, mainly, and many/most refs are available online anyway. Paper was getting voluminous, too.
    2) Tagging is fine – I use keywords of my own devising, and highly idiosyncratic. But these don’t have to be fine-grained to be useful. I find that I don’t need to do a lot of pre-sorting, as part of the exercise of searching is reserving time to review the (often varied) results, frequently notes I haven’t looked at for a long time. There are always surprises, and tho I go looking for one thing, I often end up finding something else, but something valuable.
    3) Not sure how useful others’ ref lists would be. As noted, mine is highly idiosyncratic – I know what I noticed (sometimes) when I read originally, but sometimes the new context is quite different, so different things strike me. Someone else’s notes wouldn’t be the same, I fear.

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