How much paperwork have you amassed?


I have a very small living space, and as I contemplate the 1+3 that I am soon starting I wonder how I am going to store all my stuff for the MSc and PhD.

I am certainly finally willing to jettison the lecture notes from my conversion course in Psychology, even though they have some sentimental value as they started me on this journey. But as my discipline is science anyway, it could be the case that apart from one or two new books most of the stuff I will read will be in PDF form. It could be the case that the only paperwork I amass will be data, rather than literature.

How much paperwork have you amassed? Several filing cabinets full? Or is all your stuff on the hard drive of your tiny netbook? Or something in between?


I don't want to disappoint you, but, entering my 3rd year, I have huge ammounts of paperwork!!!!!!! I also have quite a lot of books and many photocopied books and papers.
BUT, I can't read from a computer screen, as I am more traditional and I like to have paper in my hands and write in the margins....


I have piles and piles of photocopies from historical records, in various heavy boxes. But I'm a humanities (history) student. In addition I have a filing cabinet full of photocopies from journal papers (very few of mine are available as PDFs), and a bookshelf overflowing with academic books.

Now I've finished my PhD I need to move the material out of the way a bit, but don't really have anywhere to put it! A roof conversion would help :p


I've amassed a fair bit of paper work. About 25 lever arch files, 1,230 journal articles and 54 books. However, the journal articles are mainly in .pdf format as are the books. Given the amount of workspace I have, it makes for an interesting walk around my room in the dark. I can't wait until I've got my PhD finished so then I can just hide them away somewhere. I've worked out that if I made them pay me rent (at the going rate) for stopping in my room, I'd be a millionaire by now and have no need to even do a PhD.


Boxes and boxes and boxes.
Taking over my dining room


My boxes are in the study (technically second bedroom, but we use it as a study) I share with my husband. They really are taking up too much space. But they are too big to easily put away in a cupboard. For now - months after finishing my PhD! - I'm still skipping around them.


I'm wondering if I'm going to amass more paperwork on enrolling, registration, stipends, logins and other documents relating to general admin than material that actually relates to the phd.

I'm a hoarder and every now and then someone else forces me to do a paperwork/book clearout. Recently it was my dad. There were tears and tantrums but in the end I agreed to throw away my lecture notes and denote my books to the local library. These would be the lecture notes from my law degree that I completed 12 YEARS ago. Yep.

I even kept the envelope my phd offer letter came in because it was the vessel of much longed for good news. I hid that from dad.

Luckily I'm a neat freak so everything is filed away. There's just way too many files that's all. I could probably make the biggest bonfire this side of the Thames. Although I'd probably have a coronary about all my coloured coordinated tabs going up in flames. I feel a little bit sick even imagining it...:-(


I'm in my third year and have hardly any paper at all, just a few books, my lab books and some course booklets, everything else is digital. Instead of photocopying I use the scan function and save everything as pdfs. I'm quite happy reading off the screen though, and making notes in a word document. Of course then you have to worry about hard drive space, backing up and computer death all the more.


Well I certainly hope to go the PDF route with most of my stuff - which is probably easier if you're a scientist rather than a historian. A friend of mine plans to keep all her stuff on her iPad. Dunno how realistic that is...


It was impossible for me. What with the required photocopies of historical records, and the photocopies of journal papers (journals which couldn't be physically removed from the library to scan, only photocopied or read there) meant I have the piles of doom 8-) I wish I could have had much more PDFs, but wasn't possible. At least I did get digital photographs of some records though, many hundreds of images worth. That saved a bit of space :p


I started PhD in September 2007.  I feel lucky I started then and not back in 2000 because technology has been my friend.

Since then I have acquired almost 220 books which are taking over the little studio apartment I have, haha. They are the resources I worry the most about.  I have an Excel spreadsheet with the author, title, place I bought the book, and price. I've spent nearly $4000 on the books.  Shocking, eh? Several books were over $100.  Disgusting more like it, haha. But I keep that file for insurance purposes because if something happened like a fire or flood I'd have to start all over and buy them again.  I've tried to find them in eBooks or something like that but wasn't able to. They're just too academic and specialized to be done so, blah.

I try to get as many articles in PDF as I can so I can read them on the netbook or iPad.  For those articles and archival records that had to be photocopied, I used my all-in-one to scan every one of them as a PDF and saved. Mind you this doesn't always work.  One PDF file was like 30,000KB and I couldn't get it smaller without seriously distorting the images of the photocopied document.

When I completed my Master's degree, I saved the papers and thesis I did, both hard copy and electronic copy. No books or articles.

For the stuff I have collected for the PhD that is electronic I do back up, and back up some more.  I have an external drive from Click that I back up every thing on my computer every month and put in my bank security box so even if there's a disaster like flood or fire or earthquake I would be able to salvage up to the previous month. Just wish I could do the same for the books!

I've heard this from other students that finished their PhD and are now faculty.  Keep all the books. It is a requirement for a professor to have an office full of books, and who knows you might need them to teach or do future research.


Interesting thread. I am already worried about keeping track of all my photocopies and article print outs, and I am only in year one.

I wish I was content to make notes from books rather than photocopying first, but I find it much easier to highlight photocopies so that I can refer back to them more easily.

To anyone who uses a filing cabinet system, do you organize by subject, author name, or using some other method?


I don't have a study or a desk (sob!) so most pdfs go on my Kindle. I have bought about half a dozen books but the rest have been borrowed so now live back in the library.


I have a mixture of both pdfs and phocopies (books, articles, etc) and these have been filed differently. My virtual filing cabinet is simply sorted between what I need and what I don't (which I keep just in case I might need!). But with the names of the files being self-explanatory, I can easily find what I'm looking for. I back these up every so often in 2 different places though. Paper wise, I have three sections, one for books, another for articles and a third for everything else. These are then subdivided by topic. I can't remember who wrote what so filing by author would be a nightmare for me, but I can remember the type of resource, hence my choice for filing. Good luck!


Quote From lughna:

To anyone who uses a filing cabinet system, do you organize by subject, author name, or using some other method?

I filed photocopies of journal papers and books by author. To help me figure out who was the author I'd use an EndNote database to keep track of all my secondary sources, both photocopies (in my filing cabinet) and originals, like books (in my bookshelves) I might own.