Getting Organized - PDFs, Books, Chapters, Photocopies

>> Friday, May 1, 2009

Well, my bookshelf reorganization is well under way ... at least the academic side of my office, which is what I am most concerned about.

Next up, I need to sort out a system for paper. Over the course of my MA program, I ended up with hundreds - or more likely, thousands - of pieces of paper. A lot of our readings were chapters out of books, or other academic articles that we were required to photocopy.

So I have stacks of articles - to do with a whole variety of topics - public texts, fiction, viral contagion, emerging adults, etc. etc.

I am trying to decide how best to organize them. Most citations are by author - so it would make some sense to file them by author - but many also have multiple authors and besides, I am not that good at remembering authors' names likely would never be able to find what I want when I want it.

By subject has potential - but then what does one do with articles that could fit into one or more categories?

I could, I suppose, start my own database to keep track of everything... have been planning to do something along those lines to use to make notes of my readings next year .... I figure that would go a long way when it comes to having to study for my comprehensive exams in the second year... but even though I have the database ability, I am not so confident in my organizational abilities.

And the thought of typing all the info from before into it doesn't really appeal much anyway... hmmm ...sounds like a job for my kid.

Now that I have all of those articles printed though, it doesn't make sense to me to not DO something constructive with them. least organized enough that if I should happen to need one of them again, I can find it and not have to print/photocopy it again.

ANYWAY - if any of you less flitty more organized types has an opinion on a good strategy to use - especially for the offline paper stuff... I would very much appreciate your input.


  • flemisa

    Spreadsheet and cheap binders you can number.
    Articles don't have to be grouped or anything == just have the number of the binder in the first column.
    I tried to group them first but then I am left looking everywhere for the appropriate binder.
    My problem is I did a big chunk of them and didn't back the info up and not ready to face redoing it yet.

  • Patricia Rockwell

    I wish I were as organized as flemisa (I love her suggestion) because I suffered from the same problem throughout my doctoral program and many years afterward. There was one large closet I had at home where I "stored" my photocopied academic articles. Every once in a while I would go through them and try to organize them, but never really developed a system.

  • impNERD

    I'd definitely go with organizing them by author and then having a database you can easily search to find what you need. If you know how to use SQL, that is definitely the way to go (or have someone do it for you). That way, whenever you need something, just hop on your computer and look it up by name or subject.

    If there is more than one author just organize it by whichever author is listed first.

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