It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to my blog and during that time I’ve been tweaking my productivity system. First, my apologies for the delay in posting, family issues got the better of me during the hiatus.
I’m now hopefully back on track to keeping my blog updated on a regular basis. I would like to talk about Mendeley in this post. It’s a tool that I’ve used sparingly in the past, but that has now become an integral part of my productivity system.
I do all of my academic writing using latex, and one of the chores of writing a paper was collecting references and formatting them in the correct way for bibtex.
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I keep most of my papers, the ones that I’m writing and the reference papers, in Dropbox. I also clip some papers into a dedicated Evernote notebook while I’m researching a topic.
Once I’m pretty sure which papers I’ll work with, I download those into Dropbox from Evernote and do my reading using adobe acrobat reader.
Adobe reader is a pretty solid piece of software, and allows me to annotate my PDFs to my liking. I tend to do a lot of annotating while I’m trying to understand a paper and use its concepts in my research.
The problem with this approach is that I then had to go into my latex editor and create bibtex entries for each of the papers I decided to use as my references.
While this worked for me for many years — In fact it worked so well that I never tried to look into any alternatives — I finally decided to see if I could streamline my system a bit.
My academic home, the AASTMT, has an institutional license for Mendeley, so I thought I should give that tool a shot first. I was very pleasantly surprised.
I thought that my system was streamlined, but adding Mendeley into the mix allows me to create folders for my research which I can then populate with the papers I’m researching. I can annotate to my heart’s desire and have all this synced across my devices. Finally, and this is what made me fall in love with this tool, I could export the papers I selected as references for bibtex, all this using just one tool.
This allows me to do all my research seamlessly in one app, and then export a bibtex file containing all the papers I wish to reference in my work.
I still use Evernote to collect papers and ideas, but when I am fleshing out my research I move the papers I’ve settled on into Mendeley, and do the rest of my research there. Give this tool a shot, it won’t disappoint.