Help me find the best PDF management software for a Pd.D researcher
November 14, 2011 8:16 AM Subscribe
Looking for the absolute best and (preferably) easiest way to manage thousands of PDFs as part of dissertation research.
posted by arco to computers & internet (18 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
My girlfriend is embarking on her Ph.D dissertation in history, and has spent the last few months digitizing about 60 reels of microfilm (more than 60,000 pages broken down into multi-page PDFs for each document). She's looking for the most robust, intuitive way to manage and use these files, and is hoping AskMe can provide personal recommendations for software packages she should explore.
She would like a program that has the following features:
1) Built-in file/PDF viewer (of course).
2) Ability to tag files and take notes on them, then search/sort across notes and tags. The file names contain essential information about each file, so those must be maintained and incorporated into the sort options.
3) Good OCR would be awesome, but not essential. A large number of the documents are handwritten or were poorly-microfilmed, but it still would be nice to have at least some search capability.
4) Ability to ingest and manage a huge number of files, of all sizes. Again, we're talking more than 60,000 pages in 30,000-40,000 or so PDFs.
5) Intuitive to use. Ideally, the software would "get out of her way" and allow her to focus on the actual document contents and not spend her time futzing with the interface.
Are there other features she hasn't considered that would make this project more manageable?
She uses PCs, but if the absolute best software of this type is Mac-based please let us know. She may be getting a new laptop soon, so if there is a strong case for getting a Mac as part of this it will be taken into consideration. A web-based solution would be intriguing, but remember that she will be dealing with tens of thousands of documents that she wants to navigate through easily and quickly. I experimented with Google Docs and Zotero, but both seemed to get overwhelmed by the number and size of files she would be dealing with.
She's willing to spend money on this, but I suppose there is a limit. If there's a free option that can handle that many files easily, all the better. Right now she's just wanting to get a sense of her options.
Any and all suggestions would be appreciated!