Organizing your papers with Mendeley
Some days ago, someone (I can’t remember who, sorry) tweeted about Mendeley. It is a software to “Organize, share and discover research papers”. Okay, the next sentence on the website is “Like iTunes for research papers”, which almost made me stop looking at it…
Mendeley works surprisingly well. There’s this huge directory on my laptop with all the security whitepapers I downloaded over time and never come around reading (sounds familiar? Yeah, I bet). BlackHat, Defcon, papers announced on Bugtraq, Full Disclosure or recently more and more over Twitter, you name it. And lets be honest: Either you read them immediately or you forget about them.
One problem is that after dumping them in my “Security Papers” directory, when I have a second look at it later, I already forgot what the papers in there are about. And if they do not have at least a filename telling me what the paper might be about, I don’t bother to open them all in my PDF reader again.
Mendeley did a very good job on organizing this directory and extracting meaningful meta information from that pile of whitepapers and slides. It wasn’t perfect and I had to correct a lot of stuff, but the initial guessing it did was better than I hoped for. Now I have all my papers neatly organized in the Mendeley database, with full text search, the ability to find papers by author or subject, information about papers referenced, BibTeX export, the possibility to annotate the PDFs and much more. It’s a really nice way to organize your stuff. Ok, I still have to read the papers myself. But at least now I can just mark them as read or unread and find them again in the pile of papers I hoard on my disk. Mendeley even allows you to conveniently rename the papers.