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There is an increasing number of scientific articles which I look through and somehow I feel a lack of a tool to keep track of the already read ones and my summary notes on it. Or another usage scenario would be to search by an author and see which articles of the given author I have already read.

The question is: Do you use or know of any freeware tools for organizing articles?

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closed as off topic by M.S. Dousti, Charles Stewart, Jukka Suomela, Aryabhata, Daniel Apon Sep 22 '10 at 17:54

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is off-topic, since it does not pertain to TCS. $\endgroup$ – M.S. Dousti Sep 22 '10 at 10:26
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    $\begingroup$ I do not think that this is off topic. I opened a discussion thread on meta. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 22 '10 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this is off topic either. A very similar question was allowed on Math Overflow. If it's good enough for them, it sure is good enough for me. Secondly, this is a problem that a lot of TCS people face. Just because a bigger set of people face it too doesn't mean we can't discuss it here. In addition, we might have unique problems that people from other fields do not have related to journal/conference versions of papers. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kothari Sep 22 '10 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ Also, this should be CW, because the votes reflect how much everyone likes the particular software recommended in the answer. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kothari Sep 22 '10 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Robin: Indeed, MO already had the same question, they already have a bunch of answers, and I don't know if it makes much sense to repeat all of the answers here: mathoverflow.net/questions/2939/tools-for-organizing-papers . To get more TCS-specific answers, the question should explicitly highlight some TCS-specific challenges; preferably, by explaining why the MO answers aren't applicable here. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Sep 22 '10 at 14:03
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I used to store them in a SVN repository, and then I found out about Mendeley, quite satisfying so far except for a few bugs. Different features are available depending on whether or not you want to pay some fee, but the free version is enough for many people -- it seems it would be for you.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it's quite good. $\endgroup$ – Alexey Romanov Sep 22 '10 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ I've tried several different methods over the past 5 years or so, but have recently settled on Mendeley (at least it's been good to me for a few months now). It doesn't do absolutely everything I want, but what it does it does really well. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Grochow Sep 22 '10 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ Mendeley really works for me! Also as the other people have pointed out, the discussion at mathoverflow.net/questions/2939/tools-for-organizing-papers have the other suggestions for tools. $\endgroup$ – oldbam Sep 22 '10 at 17:35
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Papers for Mac OS X. It's not freeware, but it's cheapish. It does a fairly job of reducing the effort of adding the appropriate meta-data to the papers it collects. The only problem is that it is so easy to download papers much faster than you can put them into papers, though this will be a problem with any software, I imagine.

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I actually have a script that converts pdfs into plaintext, which sounds stupid but is HIGHLY useful for when I want to grep for something.

I also mark papers up religiously, and make good use of a filing cabinet.

So my workflow would look for something like this: "Pleonastic pronouns, eh? *grep* *look for file in cabinet*"

Am I too young for these things? You decide, you old people with your GUIs.

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  • $\begingroup$ You can do text searches of your document collection using Papers. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Sep 22 '10 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @dave I don't doubt it. It's not that there aren't multiple solutions, it's that I just do it this way. $\endgroup$ – apc Sep 22 '10 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ I haven't been able to try it yet (not at home and not admin), but you might find pdfgrep (pdfgrep.sourceforge.net) interesting in that case. $\endgroup$ – Anthony Labarre Sep 23 '10 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ Actually that does sound sort of awesome. $\endgroup$ – apc Sep 23 '10 at 23:25

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