How do you read yours?

22 Jun

When I started reading actual studies, as opposed to just UpToDate and the Oxford Handbooks, I quickly found myself trying to categorise and store them. This involved little folders of pdfs and folder within folders, and occasionally folders within folders.

Then you get into all kinds of bother trying to see which folder a certain paper goes into – is it orthopaedics of rheumatology? Sometimes it’s both and then you can’t find the damn thing.

So I gave up on that and bought papers. (running about 40 euro I think – NB I have no financial or other ties at all with the company or any of the things mentioned)

It provides a system for storage and creates a fully searchable database of all your papers. It also links them with all the meta-data (things like doi numbers and the abstracts off pub-med). You can also search for new articles within the program and it lets you use your library proxy for full-text access.

It’s much better than what I had but I’m not sure it’s perfect. It’s not quite as fast as I would like and searching pub-med isn’t as intuitive as I’d like. This may be just cause I’m using it wrong, it’s a pretty powerful program and there’s lots of features I don’t use.

I let papers do all the folder organisation and it syncs it all to dropbox (which is a must have in life generally)

For actually reading and annotating pdfs I use the Preview program that comes with the mac. It lets you do nice highlighting and note making fairly easily

To find new studies I’ve signed up for email table of contents alerts from all the EM journals, plus big ones like Lancet, BMJ, JAMA and some of the ICU stuff too. I just scan the email for any that look interesting and use the papers program to find and download them.

I often think that reading pdfs on something like an iPad might be pretty sweet but then I’d have an iPad and I’d have to renounce my anti-materialist, socialist leanings. A society that wants socialised healthcare and iPads is deeply confused… Though as a person who owns a mac and cuts his own hair perhaps I’m pretty ideologically confused too!

Enough of that.

What does everyone else use? There’s probably people out there still using paper, come on now be honest…

8 Replies to “How do you read yours?

  1. I’d recommend Zotero (
    Works as a Firefox plugin allowing you to add arbitary html pages, pubmed search results etc. directly from the browser (by clicking an icon in the browser bar). Has all the regular tagging/searching, referencing plugin for OpenOffice/Word, online backup etc
    Also its Open Source which should appeal to your aforementioned “anti-materialist, socialist leanings” 😉

  2. Pingback: Keeping up with the literature - Emergency Medicine Ireland

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