PDF inventory software

LoH lordofhyphens at gmail.com
Mon Jun 8 21:39:12 UTC 2009

Daniel Underwood wrote:
> I'm looking for a way to manage my personal collection of research
> articles.  Ideally I'd like some way to keep records on authors,
> keywords, journals, and publication years of articles (PDF files)
> downloaded onto my local drive.
>  In the course of reading literature for research, it often happens
> that I find myself wanted to return to something I have previously
> read, but I only recall a few "things" about the article, often the
> author and a keyword.  Is there some inventory/database software (for
> local use only) that can be easily used for this purpose?  (The
> closest things that comes to mind (conceptually) is "image collection"
> software.)
> What are some of my options here?
> Thanks,
> Daniel

First thing that comes to mind is abusing BibTeX/LaTeX. Keep a BibTeX 
file (under version control for safety) or other LaTeX-based citation 
solution as a file on your desktop. If you're using articles from 
journals, you should be able to get the BibTeX versions of the citation 
information from general research portals like IEEEXplore or ACM's 
library (and many other places). For each one, add another field and add 
your local path (of the file referencing the article) to it.

If you need to find something after that, grep the keyword or author's 
name with the option to display a couple lines up or down. A useful side 
effect is that if you know LaTeX (and it's a good skill to have), you 
have the citation information handy for easy inclusion in your own papers.

With some work, that approach could probably be expanded to an GUI app.

Like most things, it's a bit of up-front work and requires maintenance 
(mostly remembering to grab the cite info from documents as you add them 
to your collection). If you're going to be using any of them for 
citations, however, it's work you're already having to do.

--Joseph Lenox

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