Tuesday, October 7, 2008

iTunes to manage papers?

I vaguely remember seeing something in the news about a lab or school that was using iTunes to organize scientific papers. Well, while sitting through a 'digital resources' seminar, and chiming in to help the library staff help students, that little pathway lit up in my head. I decided to try it, just to check it out.

It does work - you can organize you papers relatively well in iTunes, if you want to manually add the info yourself. That's how it stands as of now, but if you want to be creative, it should be possible to export your bibliographic info to a text file, write a quick script to convert the fields to a playlist (an xml lib file would probably retain all the info), and then import that 'library' into iTunes.

Why would you want to do this? Well, the obvious thing that jumps out at me is smart playlists. Create a smart playlist that uses specific key words or authors, and anytime a pdf is added that meets those criteria, the playlist is automatically updated to include it.

Just throwing it out there. Pic for proof of concept below...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Basically you want this: http://mekentosj.com/papers/

Victor said...

Or, if you're a Windows user, you could look into Mendeley, a cross-platform (Windows, Linux, Mac) paper management software with sharing/web 2.0 features.

Obviously it's still early (beta 0.5.8), but we're constantly adding new features. We already have "Smart Filters", which are something like the smart playlists you described for authors, tags, author-supplied keywords and journals.

Best,
Victor

Brandon King said...

Yes, I love the layout of the Papers app (I've been watching it for a while, hoping for a Windows port), but even that lacks some big features that EndNote has, like cite while you write and bibliography building.

Mendeley looks awesome, and I think the only reason I didn't jump on it earlier was the whole beta status. I worry about putting all my eggs in one basket because it means they are all squished if there's a problem. EndNote has a big user base, so I'd expect to find more solutions to issues. I realized this when I started playing with Zotero and had the db get corrupted somehow. Thankfully I was still in the 'experimenting phase' and didn't have much committed to it.

Buuuut... Mendeley looks too good, so I'm gonna have to give it a try. :)

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