I’ve been busy writing a research paper during my sabbatical and over the course of these past few weeks I’ve been using a free application called Mendeley quite frequently. Mendeley is a document organizer that is focused on the organization of research papers. I first started using Mendeley when I took on a textbook revision project. I needed a better way of storing and searching the dozens of research papers that I was using and a colleague recommended Mendeley.
Since then I’ve also recommended this application to my students who are writing long research papers (senior thesis) as well. Mendeley is pretty easy to use and has been quite the time saver for me when I need to find a specific journal article or if I simply need to search all my saved journal articles for a particular topics. I have Mendeley ‘watch’ a folder on my hard drive. What this means is that I save all my research journal PDFs into one folder (which I call ‘Journals’) on my computer. Within this folder I have subfolders which separate my articles by the research project they first applied to. Mendeley watches my Journals folder and automatically syncs to it. When I open Mendeley I can view all my files, I can see my most recently added files, or I can create folders within Mendeley as well. What is important is regardless of which subfolder I place an article, it automatically goes into Mendeley as well. When syncing, Mendeley also saves a copy of the article to the cloud, which means I can access my articles from any web-enabled device. I don’t need my computer with the locally saved copy if I am traveling to a conference and need to whip out an article to read.
In addition to this basic organization ability, Mendeley can also automatically create references (usually in APA style but I think there might be others), users can highlight the articles electronically and create notes. You can also create groups and collaborate remotely with others using this application.
In addition to the desktop application (Linux included), there are also apps for iOS and Android devices for mobile connectivity.