Filing/Organising papers


Hi all,

I was just wondering about what you all do with your papers once you've read them. I keep electtronic copies on my computer and link them to EndNote, but I also have about 500 papers in hard copy which I've read but are just sitting on my desk. I've thought about filing according to some kind of subject area, but a lot of them overlap into three or more areas. The alternative would just be putting them all in alphabetic order. Unless someone can suggest something else...


I jus file them according to topic as each topic is quite discrete and they rarely overlap; this makes it easier for me to find papers if I have forgotten the name of the author, especially if I haven't read them for a while. I just use a filing cabinet with labelled hanging files; they are getting a little but full now so I might have to have a rethink!

I have electronic copies of everything and use Mendeley as well.


Any more?


Hi 4matt

What I do whenever I read a new article is I code it with a little label. I then order them according to their code (they are all numerical codes according to the week number I read the article in and then the number article of that week, e.g. 43/1). I then keep a spreadsheet with the code number, name of article, author, journal and the main themes which are covered in that article.

This makes it easy if I want to cross reference papers, I could just write, for example, see paper 43/1 (instead of having to write the title).
Also if I want to search for all the papers which cover a particular theme, I 'find' the theme I am looking for on the spreadsheet (using the find function in excel) and then it will highlight all the papers which cover that theme, and then by looking at the code I know exactly where to find it.

It might sound a bit complicated, but its what has worked for me so far!


Just thought I'd add my system . . . When I download articles electronically, I always save them into the same folder on my hard drive ("journal articles"). I use a formula for naming the file (lastname initials year title without punctuation). When I attach one to an Endnote record, I then shift the electronic copy from the first folder to another ("journal articles in Endnote"). Basically, I can always see which downloaded files haven't been added in to Endnote yet, which is a bit of housekeeping I can do when I have time...

Then, for hard copies of articles and book chapters, I keep them in a file cabinet, usually filed under author's names. But I customized a field in Endnote, and call it "Own copy?" So, when I file one of the hard copy files, I usually make a note in that field that lets me remind myself 1) that I have a copy on file and 2) what I filed it under (important for book chapters, in particular).

It took a lot of trial and error to get to this point, but it is a system that works for me. And I can say definitely that HAVING a system itself is very helpful -- I can't say how much time it has saved me, but it has saved me tons of time and lots of aggro!


I print out paper copies of things I want to read, and save PDFs in Mendeley with bibliographic info. In theory when I finish reading a paper I tag the Mendeley record with key words and then write a summary of the paper. The summaries I initially put in Mendeley, but for various reasons I switched to OneNote for that. It doesn't always happen though, so a lot of the time my notes are the handwritten scrawl on the papers or in my notebook.

As for the paper copies, I tried various thematic filing systems but couldn't get them to work due to the nature of my topic. In the end I've just gone for alphabetical, and use Mendeley to search by theme.

I'm not sure my system has much to recommend it - will let you know when it comes to writing up!