advice please for literature searching


Hello All,

Just a brief overview, I am a first year PhD student and am doing some preparatory reading.

I wonder whether someone could give me some advice relating to literature searching. I am using Zotero to manage my references and have a humongous amount so far (as is normal for PhD)and this will need to be read through and analysed etc. Does anyone have advice on the best way to analyse the papers, I think simply printing them off is one option and annotating them with highlighters etc but is there another way such as annotating PDF's? I see that I can convert PDF's to word which may be useful and can annotate them on word but what are other people's experiences? Just trying to find the most timely method/tool.

Thanks (up)


I think Mendeley (similar to Zotero) allows you to annotate PDFs without needing to convert to Word. Personally I still have to print out stuff and underline things if I want my brain to focus, but I do (sometimes!) then write summary notes in Mendeley or MS OneNote.

There's no one right way - just depends on what works for you. I'm halfway through now and I do feel I will need to reread some things - papers I have re-read I find I understand much more now. I wish I could read everything just once and retain all the facts and understanding I need, but alas it doesn't work. Others may differ!


I'm with Hazyjane on this one, printing & lots of scribbling/annotation works well if you like the solid nature of a piece of paper in your hand. It's easy enough to make notes on papers to make links to other literature, then I've put all mine into separate folders by subject & ranked them in the folder - good ones at the front, poor stuff further back, really poor stuff in the recycling!
Having good notes obviously makes life easier when it comes to writing up too; then reading & re-reading, reading, reading some more...
Good luck!


Thank you so much for your replies, greatly appreciated!