How I use Mendeley in my studies

This is how I use the Mendeley system for managing my phd. Mendeley has the ability to full-text search downloaded academic papers, and features for adding notes, tags, keywords and more.

The advantage is that I can quickly retrieve a paper that is relevant to a given current work, and filter on how many times I’ve read the given paper, and what the topic of the paper is. Very useful indeed.

How I use tags

Tags are for reading queues.

I organize the papers I have downloaded into a set of reading queues. Each paper I’m writing is associated with a queue. Each queue has three buckets where a paper is placed depending on how far I am reading it. These buckets are pass0 (never read), pass1 (read abstract,introduction,conclusion), pass2 (read whole thing), pass3 (read whole thing in excruciating detail).

So to summarize, I use two tags. One tag for the queue-name (e.g. “reading_queue_xyz”), one tag for the progress (e.g. “pass1”).

Example tag list for a paper:

tags: reading_queue_xyz, pass1

I have a special reading queue called “culture”, which is simply for stuff I want to know in general. If a paper is not in a queue, I should delete it!

The use of tags could be extended to include a priority, like “highprio”, “medprio”, “lowprio”…

How I use notes

Notes are for “how will I use this”.

I use notes to capture the purpose of why I reading the paper. How will I use it in my current work? Is it for the related works section? Is it part of the motivation?

Example notes:

Use this paper for related work section in mapping paper

How I use keywords

Keywords are for objective descriptions of content.

This is not related to how I intend to use a given paper in my work. I use a mix of general keywords and very specific ones.

distributed systems
fault tolerance


spatial join

How I use the “favorite star”

When I’m in a hurry I’ll use the favorite star to indicate that a paper is related to current work.

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