How do you keep track of your information?

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How do you keep track of your information?

Post by DrFurbs » Tue Oct 20, 2009 10:55 am

Im always on the lookout for ways to improve my data organisation and management. So currently I use:

Zotero for managing my reference as this firefox tool basically sucks the reference from the web-page and archive it including a snapshot of the page and PDF, if I so wish. It allows me to add notes web pages which are stored locally on my hard-drive and has quite a good text system. I cant stress how good this tool is, I havent once in 4 years of study ever once concerned myself with manual referencing and it can chop and change on the fly between styles if you need.

I also use Isys personal desktop search as this indexes every piece of data on my hard-drive, although I have it set only to archive my Doc and PDF files atm. What is cool about this software is that it searches insides the PDF so I dont have to manually read reams of text to find something. Then I hit another button and it launches the PDF into my PDF reader.

The reader I prefer is Foxit Reader as it very light weight, but has stunning annotation tools, note tools and highlighting tools so that I can just snip what I want etc.

Lastly I use a backup service called Syncplicity to automatically save "on the fly" as I save my work. It saves the copy on my server somewhere on the inter-web but the cool thing about it is, If i go to uni, download a file from my server, work on it and re save it back to the server, the saved file propagates back to my home PC meaning I always have the most up to date work.

Basically, I dont carry USB keys as Ive lost tonnes of them.

oh and Ive also started using Evernote to grab full pages from Google books, so if I ever see a line or a paragraph worth paraphrasing etc, EN just takes a screen shot and saves it to my server...I havent discovered the potential of this tool yet but Ive read its fantastic for Ph.D work for tracking papers etc, but im yet to discover exactly how.

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Post by astra » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:02 pm

Not a clue what you're on about! I click "save as" and make up a name. If I need to access it elsewhere I send it to my yahoo e-mail. Whilst doing my thesis I had a memory stick permanently attached to my car keys so if I lost it I couldn't get home til I found it!!!! :wink: I'm really not on the same page am I???????

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Post by miriam » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:39 pm

Likewise, I'm considered to be quite techie compared to most of our department and I've not heard of any of those things! I have an encrypted memory stick, and a VPN token to access work stuff at home, and a blackberry - though I much prefer my iphone and I've not really figured out how to use it and find it runs out of charge all the time...

See my blog at

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Post by AdamC » Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:19 pm


Nice post. I think organisation, time-management and productivity are so important. I don't follow GTD like a religion, but I do like its principles and the way it allows me to break things down into manageable chunks.

EverNote is a gift from a higher being.

I also use Things for the iPhone - if it's not in my Things it doesn't matter. I've used some good portable encrypted HD's in the past, including one where you carry the decryption scanner on a key-ring.

DrFurbs do you follow any specific data and time-management methodology?


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Post by Bubbly » Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:26 pm

I used Abbyy finereader and screenshot reader to grab pages/selected text on google books. I highly recommend it!

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Post by angie25 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:17 pm

Great post, I will be checking this all out asap

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Post by h2eau » Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:38 pm

I'm very impressed - I had not realised that this range of applications was out there and I will certainly be looking into all of the ones mentioned as my current systems of organisation are definitely in need of streamlining.

My other half says the programme Papers for the Mac has been a godsend for organising the high volume of publications that he downloads. You can also search for keywords and content within papers and add notes as you read through it. Its a bit like an iTunes for your papers so you can easily create libraries and it also works with Endnote, but doesn't as yet do RSS feeds. Apparently the developers are working on it and all the updates are free. There is a similar free version for both Macs and Windows called Mendeley. However, I haven't yet checked out the suggestions on this thread so these may be similar to programs already mentioned.

Great thread - and very timely for me!

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Post by DrFurbs » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:34 pm

Wooo, wasn't expecting such a response! However, I do like my things nice and tidy and maybe Ive a little OCD in there somewhere :) I love streamlining.

Ive shown my uni supervisor Zotero and he was completely blown away at its simplicity and I urge everyone to take a few minutes to see this thing inaction:

Check the main page for an overview here:

and some short screen casts of its power here:


I dont mate, I only use Exstora as a little "to-do" and reminder app (350K). Its basically set to remind me when to hand in things a day before its due. I also use Gmails little "to do" list thing on that but nothing really of major significance, plus Gmail Calendar connects to Exstora and EssentialPIM > syncs and will send out text messages to my phone to remind of stuff i have set, but I dont use that feature often.

You could look at EssentialPIM (free or Pro). Its a data/note/time management reminder, email thing, sort of like the full Outlook program MS has.

Btw, how do you use Evernote?

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Post by AdamC » Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:52 pm

Just had a look at Papers for Mac - very interesting.

I use EverNote for taking photographs of business cards/anything. I tend to find writing ideas 'out and about' for example of adverts/billboards which I can then snap and send to the cloud using the iPhone app. I also record audio of ideas/brainwaves. Beyond that there's the obvious clipping of websites.

I think this works when you think/work in terms of projects in the GTD sense - whereby you collect information that is relevant to projects which you have on the back-burner.

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Post by rvidal » Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:52 pm

I too was having issues organizing my papers while performing my thesis research. I'd copy them to a pen so that I could have them with me at university and at home. (I'm not really fond of the email for storage technique!)

I've used Zotero and a few other lesser known applications to organize my research papers but ended up discovering Mendeley some time during the summer last year. Since then, I've been a happy camper. I used it to write my Masters dissertation.

Since I use Windows and Linux machines, Mendeley was the obvious option since I could have it installed on both machines and keep my library of research papers synched. No more pens, no more renaming files by hand, and specially, keeping my Word/OpenOffice document up-to-date manually(!!!)

To make a long story short, I recommend using Mendeley. It's available for Win, Mac and Linux and it's free. You can sync your documents across computers so no need for pens or email-storage-tricks.

As for PDFs, I also like using Foxit Reader. It's lightweight and packs a punch :)

Disclaimer: I'm currently Community Liaison at Mendeley but have been using it far before joining the team! Feel free to contact me if you have questions or suggestions :)

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