I’ve finally caved and realised that filing all of my PDFs of articles in subfolders along with whatever piece of academic work I’m using said article for isn’t going to work any more. The approach of having a subfolder called ‘Articles’ alongside whatever I was writing worked just fine for the PhD, and for the various other projects that I ran alongside the PhD. However, their bibliographies are now starting to overlap. The Stoic exile article, for instance, uses a lot of the same biblio that chapter two of the thesis did, and while it was fine to have one big folder of articles for the PhD as a whole, jumping between the Stoic Exile article folder and the PhD article folder is… well, let’s say that I’ve only been trying to run this routine for a week or so, and it’s already irritating the hell out of me.
So! Clearly what I need is one centralised place to keep all my PDFs. I could just shove them all in a folder marked ‘articles’ and just hope, but this seems a good a time as any to experiment with some of this bibliographic management software that people keep on sounding keen on. I had heard really good things about Papers2, but alas! That only operates on a Mac platform, and I’m a Windows girl. My two options seemed to be Mendeley and Qiqqa. Mendeley tends to go head to head with Zotero when #phdchat has these kinds of discussions, and after looking at the feature comparison charts I figured that I’d give it a go rather than Qiqqa – the main advantage of Qiqqa seemed to be a lot of ‘also by this author’ material, and I’ll admit that I’m sceptical they have much background data of any use to a classicist. So I downloaded Mendeley last night, copied all my PDFs into it, and then found myself looking at a huge job of getting all the references right on nearly four hundred documents.
I’m not saying that I am completely convinced by Mendeley’s pitch – I’m deeply sceptical of the claim that it creates effective academic social networking, not to mention this metadata of which they speak (a good chunk of my PDFs are scans of articles rather than PDF files, and as my transfer of data last night showed, the metadata is rather thin on the ground). A lot of the supposed benefits are, shall we say, causing me to raise my eyebrow in a sceptical fashion. But I’m figuring that I can’t afford to be properly sceptical until I’ve given it a go – and if I do end up being right in my hunch that I’m likely to be a research community of one, then at least I’ll have well-ordered PDFs out of it. I guess this starts with going through the files when I have a spare moment and making sure that the reference information is in order and that each article is properly tagged with the projects I’m using it for. One might argue that there are perhaps better times to do this than a fortnight before negotiating a transatlantic move… but I’m going with the old adage that there’s no time like the present.
(I suppose the second stage will be working out whether I can get the automatic citation tool to work in MS Word, and figuring out what the hell to do with citation references that aren’t in PDF form, like books, but baby steps.)