The reason it was so important to get up and running is because the label printer is critical to my current organizational process.  As most researchers can attest, you don’t get to write ANYTHING until you have read EVERYTHING that everyone else has written about it.  (OK, maybe not EVERYTHING, but it sure seems that way sometimes.)

Keeping track of all that information isn’t trivial.  I’ve recently converted from Endnote to Zotero (and will eventually write more about that) for my bibliographies.  But I still tend to print out the journal articles and read them on paper, highlighting things I might need later.  I need to be able to find those again, since it is uncommon to use the same article as a source for multiple articles.

My solution is based on GTD.  Part 1 is putting each article into a file.  Part 2 is labeling that file clearly and legibly.  Part 3 is then filing those articles in a way that I can easily find them again.

This is straight GTD, but I believe that my labeling system might be useful to other academics.  My labels look like this:

Author1, Author2, Author3…                           Year Published
                                            Article Title:
                  up to 2 lines available for the information
                                                              Journal in which it was published

Key features are as follows:
– Authors listed (last name only) and that is used to file the article
– Year published so that, at a glance, I can see if the work is recent
– 2 lines for the title, since any academic with a real career tends to write a lot of stuff
– Journal in which it was pubished so that I can judge, at a glance, whether this work was from a top journal.  If it isn’t a journal article, then the think tank/agency/conference or wherever I got it.

Again, the goal is to make it easy to find the article again, and while most of the information isn’t strictly needed in order to properly file the documents, but it makes it easier for me to find things again quickly, even if I don’t have the right notes in my boibliographic software.