If you are in to academics and in particular want to do research i.e. maintain a lot of pdf documents for the future reference then you already know that how much headache it can be to maintain your “research collection” and find the relevant references at a later time when you need them. Particularly considering that many research articles that we normally download from the Internet are not even with the proper file names. So under those circumstances process to find the required file can be painful and tedious as you will need to open each file manually and see if that is the required article you are looking for etc. And then comes the problem of proper referencing styles (such as IEEE, ACM etc.) for citation as more often than not you need properly formatted references that you can directly insert in the current “ground-breaking” research article you working on. This is where Mendeley an innovative free windows research software can help you to make the whole process more streamlined and less time consuming.
In essence Mendeley is reference manager that can be used to catalogue and index all the interesting articles that you want to reference or read at a later date. Once all the pdf documents are imported in to the software Mendeley automatically tries to fetch and fill in the relevant metadata about the documents from the web such as title, publication date, conference or journal in which it is published. You can fill in the missing entries manually. There is an option to periodically check a folder for changes and automatically add any new pdf documents are put in that folder. It can save some time of manual import of the documents. Once a library is setup and indexed its very fast to search for the relevant information in the library as Mendeley supports full text search on the indexed documents. After a desired document is found you can easily copy related reference in the proper reference format from the context menu to the windows clipboard to paste in any other application such as Microsoft Word. It even comes with a plugin for the MS Word that can be used directly insert references in the word document from the Mendeley library.
Presented information in the main view can also be filtered on the author names which is sometimes convenient. All the documents in the library can categorized in to different folders for the organizational purposes. Another feature is Mendeley web account that entitles you to get 500 MB free space online and synchronize all the contents in the local library online if you decide to register (I strongly recommend that). From there you can essentially access your online research library from any ware and can even synchronize with another computer that you might have with Mendeley desktop client installed. You can get even more for the paid account if 500 MB is not enough for you purposes.
A nice feature linked to the online account is that you can add and utilize a web importer bookmarklet that allows to import articles to you online repository with the click of button in any major browser (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer etc.). It is very convenient in some scenarios for example consider a case where you are doing online research and you found an interesting article on the IEEE web portal that you want to keep for future reference – ok no problem when you are there just click on the web importer bookmarklet and it will allow to import the article in you online repository. Once it is there your local library will automatically be synchronized with it (on any computer) when next time you run the Mendeley desktop client. Once you get used to this process, it is really easy. You can even export your library references as BibTex or EndNote format. Not to mention its growing online community for academic research with which you can collaborate and they can even help you organize you research.
There is a lot more to explore but I leave that up to you! You can download Mendeley from official website. Ah! before I forget there is even an IPhone version of the desktop client for those mobile geeks out there!
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