Citations generated from PDFs?
October 29, 2015 10:11 AM   Subscribe

I have a whole bunch of PDFs of articles. I need citations from these articles (Chicago Style). Is there software that will allow me to efficiently generate citations from a batch of PDFs? Thanks!
posted by Fister Roboto to Technology (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are the PDFs scanned or downloaded from JStor or such? Mendeley will take all the PDFs in a folder and import them using the metadata, which if they're downloaded from JStor or such, hopefully include title, author, year, journal etc. Then it will generate bibliographies in different formats.

In practice, it kind of sucks. Like sometimes the title will be in ALLCAPS in the metadata, so that's how Mendeley imports it. Or sometime sit imports authors first names but sometimes only initials. Fine if you need initials, but sucks if your citation format requires names.

Still, even if you have to edit the entries before generating the bibliography, it's probably faster than entering them all by hand, uless you have a very small number.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:18 AM on October 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

If the PDFs have DOIs, some apps will automatically look them up. I have done this with Bookends with generally good results. I don't know about other applications. My experience with Mendeley has been more mixed, but it was some years ago.
posted by Grinder at 11:01 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Zotero should work for this. After you've loaded the pdfs into Zotero you can retrieve metadata from the PDF. Zotero will then use that information to generate citations.

Here is more info:
posted by marbb at 11:16 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding If I only had a penguin.This is exactly what Mendeley is meant to do.

1) Put your PDFs in a folder
2) Point Mendeley to that folder
3) Mendeley generates a records (author, title, date, etc.) from the metadata imbedded in the PDFs
4) Use the cite-while-you-write features to generate citations in your paper

More information and help here.

How efficient this is depends on the metadata in your PDFs. Last time I used Mendeley, I had to manually correct and/or complete almost every record. But it was still better than manually entering all of them.

Alternatively, you can use Citation Machine. It will only create one citation at a time, however, and you'll have to manually enter the citation information into the online form.
posted by Boxenmacher at 11:42 AM on October 29, 2015

Seconding Zotero. You should be able to just drag and drop the pdfs into the Zotero client and most will populate the citation information.
posted by teleri025 at 11:59 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Zotero works great for this. However, if you've marked up the PDFs with stickies/highlighting, or saved them with your own filenames, sometimes it works less than great (but nothing else will work better).
posted by unknowncommand at 4:36 PM on October 29, 2015

Depending on which operating system you're using, I suggest looking at Sente (Mac), Qiqqa (Windows), or Bookends (Linux). I've been using Sente for years myself. It can look up reference info using DOI or other information is reads from a PDF; if that fails, you can highlight the title of the article in a preview window and have it search a resource such as Google Scholar for a match. This process is interactive, but it almost always works even if an article lacks the necessary metadata. (That means the technique works for scanned articles as well, as long as the scan has been run through OCR software so that you can actually select text.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 11:59 PM on October 29, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Mendeley worked pretty well; I had to manually work on about half of them, but it wasn't too bad.
posted by Fister Roboto at 11:03 AM on October 30, 2015

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