0 votes
asked ago by (180 points)
This question could be divided into (at least) two sub-questions:

(1) How do you organize the files?

Reference management software is frequently recommended but I still wonder the most efficient way to organize papers. For example, do you create a reference folder for each project, or do you organize references by topic? Or other suggestions?

(2) How do you organize the thoughts/takeaways?

Would you write down the key messages for each paper and organize them in a document? How do you organize those thoughts/takeaways instead of leaving it in a document that is getting larger and larger (and messier)?

In some sense the two sub-questions are linked -- well-organized thoughts could be reflected in the organization of files, and well-organized folders may stimulate well-organized thoughts. As a graduate student who has not been familiar with the literature, I'm always wondering how people start to get the big picture of the literature and how people effectively organized the papers they've read.

1 Answer

+2 votes
answered ago by (760 points)
I've actually learned a valuable lesson after many attempts to do this. If you have a particular question in mind, just work on that question. The papers that you read that actually relate in a valuable way will stick with you. Papers that you need to constantly remind yourself even exist are not the ones you'll use. Of course ,come time to write the lit review, you might need to go back over that- but for that kind of thing, I just make a google sheet with names and article titles.