At the moment I am in New Mexico trying to relax and recharge for a very tough year coming up. Once I sat down and began to outline all the things I need to do to prep for dissertation proposal, I realized that my entire scholarly library was in disarray. Although I have been diligent in adding references to the library as time has passed and organizing them logically based on course or project, I have been completely unorganized in preparing the references for anything beyond these small and somewhat limited scopes.
That had to change before Spring. Why wait any further and let's get it done. The first thing I noticed was the culmination of duplicates in the library, actual duplicate bibliographic entries and PDF attachments. Mendeley solves this quickly with the find duplicates, this allowed me to merge similar or same references with ease and at the same time do a quick scan to make sure that any entries were in the correct format or assigned reference type (journal or references or book, etc). This reduced my library by some 40 entries which also reduced my account storage use by several mega bytes.
The second step was to look at my groupings. I had originally placed things in large scope categories like cloud computing, forensics, network security, etc. I found this to be somewhat useful at the time. As my studies in the program have progressed and my list of references increased, I found that this is no longer as advantageous. It took roughly four hours to go through each and every reference in my list, but I reduced the total count to just over 150 sources in my library. I also took the opportunity to reorganize them into the sections and sub-sections of my current draft proposal, this will make it easier to fill in gaps in articles I am missing as well and help organize for comprehensive exams in 2013.
I will suggest a few things that I learned in the process of the reorganization:
- Any research methodology articles, especially seminal ones should be broken down into qualitative and quantitative approaches. I was able to organize the design science approaches into the appropriate sub-groups in order to facilitate easier search visually.
- Make a legal section and use it. I used this section to keep the things like congressional acts, laws, court cases, government reports (especially the Bureau of Justice Statistics). All of these the are quite common for both the fields of Information Systems (think HIPPA) and Criminology.
- It is uncommon but it happens at times that a citation is needed from a reference source, say a dictionary. I added a reference section to include things like Webster's and Oxford's English dictionaries.
- In regards to courses I am teaching at UT Arlington, I've made a section for articles I want students to use in the course of their instruction.
- Mark missing articles. There are several ways to accomplish this goal, and Mendeley allows the end user to facilitate this per the user's preferences.
- Tags!!!! I cannot stress how important tagging your articles in the sense of searching for related information. I am still working on adding tags to the articles I have, but this is one of the reasons I added things to groups visually, it allows me to look through and add tags as I have time.
I know this is a lot of information, but this is the culmination of several hours of cleanup and work in Mendeley over the last few days. Hopefully it will help you out.