Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Academic Housekeeping

I have made a resolution to do some academic housekeeping (a.k.a. filing of papers) every day to reduce the huge stack of copied papers that are still left from the time of thesis-writing. Since filing here means taking the paper and typing all the necessary data like author, editor, title, year, journal or book title, ... into my database before actually punching holes into the sheets and binding them together and physically filing them, this is not one of my favourite jobs - it can get pretty tedious after a while. At the moment, I am filing mostly papers written in Czech, which means "after a while" translates as "after the third or fourth article". Even with a keyboard heavily altered to include almost all special characters that are needed for writing Czech, Polish, French, and the Scandinavian languages, getting all the words typed out correctly is taking a lot of concentration.

Yet keeping such a database is a huge help when looking for that "something I once read somewhere", not to speak of citing things in papers and articles. I would not want to be without that database - I am using Endnote, but if you are looking for a literature database, you might want to look at Zotero, a free plugin for Firefox doing the same job as Endnote. I bought the commercial programme a few years ago because it included an add-in for MS Word, and there was no alternative product on the market. I was convinced before buying that adding references to texts with a flick of the finger really is something, and I never regretted buying the software. Even better if you can get the same functionality for free nowadays!

So now I'm tackling the paper stack three or four papers at a time, and I'm looking forward to the day in the future when all the sheets have been filed into one of my file folders. And I hope it will come soon!

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