I have recently begun using a database software called Mendeley, which is a free research management tool for desktop and web. According to the website, Mendeley is “like iTunes for research papers” and allows you to organise, collaborate on and discover research papers. I have not tried the latter two points, but for organising papers it is very good. For example, you can instruct it to automatically store all your research documents in folders and subfolders named after authors, journals, years, or whatever folder structure you prefer.

Moreover, you can organise your documents into lists called Collections (a bit like “playlists” in music organisers/players). This is very convenient when writing a paper, say, as I can have all the references contained in such a collection and can also view them from within the program. The collections are only symbolic links so files are not duplicated by doing this (just like music playlists) and you only have one version of each reference.

Other important features are automatic extraction of document details, optical character recognition so you can perform text-based search even of scanned PDFs, online backup of your library, and many others.

The software is free and works under Windows, Mac OS X, and  Linux. To download, visit the Mendeley download page. To view my Mendeley profile, click on the button in the top right corner.

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