I have two qualities that are a blessing and a curse: I’m hyper organized & I plan for the future. Over all I’m very happy that these two traits have naturally become a key part to how I approach life. However, I do consider them a curse at times because they are both super time consuming!
Anyhow, when I was helping to develop our syllabus for our design anthropology course this summer, I realized that I would be reading over 40 articles and would have to produce a paper in the end. This was a somewhat dizzying thought at first until I decided to organize the articles (all PDFs) along the way.
I’ve messed around with a few PDF database/organizing software products in the past and none of them met my requirements, until the recently updated release of Yep. Yep is software that is only OSX (Mac) (I switched to a Mac because of the software that is available!) compatible and costs $34 USD for the full version. There is a free trial version though! In my opinion it’s totally worth the $34.
Awesome features of Yep: you can tag articles and write a summary of them (however long you want), then you can search those tags and summaries to find what you need. This makes future referencing of articles for papers, etc. super easy.
Downfalls: only for OSX & the files have to be in PDF format (but the Mac has software that comes with it to allow you to convert to PDF easily).
For this design anthropology course we had to write an annotated bibliography of each article. So from week 1 I would read an article, write the annotated bibliography, then pull up the PDF in Yep, tag it with the appropriate tags and copy & past the bibliography into the description field. I use broad tags such as “history”, “introduction”, “methods”, “case studies”, “theory+analysis”, & “theory+approach”. I also use more specific tags i.e., “PD”, “CSCW”, “semiotics”, “McCracken”, “IDEO”, & “Wasson”.
I’m currently in the process of outlining my paper for design anthropology. It will be about 10 pages long and cover “what is design anthropology”, “history of design anthro”, “common methods”, “common theories of approach”, “common theories of analysis”, “how design anthro is different from academic anthro”, “how design anthro is beneficial to design” and the “pro’s and con’s of design anthro”. If this seems like a lot of topics, it is, but each topic will only have about half a page or so. For each topic I use the search feature on Yep to see which articles I should work from. As I write I’m realizing which tags should be added or removed from certain articles and adjusting accordingly. Yep is making the process of writing a paper that references 40 articles super, duper easy!
I love the new version of Yep so much that I’ve gone back through my old PDFs and tagged them too. Maintaining the PDFs once a week this summer (adding them, tagging them, & writing the description) was so easy that I will continue this process moving forward.