I have many PDF files for some academic papers. I want to sort them into journal articles, conference proceedings, reports, etc.

How can I know which one is an article and which one is a conference proceedings and which one is ... (any other type of papers)?

  • 8
    Unless the publication information is stored in the PDF file, either as text or metadata, this task is essentially impossible. The same paper (or at least a paper with the same title, authors, and abstract) may appear first as an arxiv preprint, then as a technical report, then as a proceedings paper, then as a journal article, and then as a chapter of a PhD thesis. Which version do you have?
    – JeffE
    Jul 1, 2013 at 18:50
  • Totally agree with @JeffE comment. you might look to the "Papers" app. I remember it does something similar. it still however has its limitations.
    – seteropere
    Jul 1, 2013 at 21:30
  • 1
    May I ask why you want to sort them in such a manner? In my reading, I do not care where the material came from, and the only time I needed to differentiate was where the publisher demanded special reference formatting for each type of entry.
    – penelope
    Jul 2, 2013 at 8:04
  • @JeffE this depends on the field - in some disciplines it is extremely unlikely for the same paper/abstract to appear in multiple formats. Also, in life sciences there is a central database for papers, which contains much of the metadata, so it can be extracted from there.
    – Bitwise
    Jul 2, 2013 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


Reference managing software such as Mendeley usually provide an import feature for PDF files. You simply supply a list of PDF files and the software automatically extracts the metadata such as title, author names, journal, and so on. The accuracy is usually pretty good, and then you can easily sort and organize the files in whichever way you want.

  • Do you mean that the software can tell me which one is article and which one is proceeding, etc?
    – Saqqaf
    Jul 1, 2013 at 18:08
  • 2
    @Saqqaf: Only if the metadata for the paper is available to the software. A generic PDF may not have this—especially older PDF's.
    – aeismail
    Jul 1, 2013 at 21:09
  • @Saqqaf the program will try to reconstruct the metadata from the text of the PDF, or extract a DOI/pubmed number from the document and get its metadata from a database. So it might find the name of the conference or journal. This could make the job of categorizing them easier. It will probably not be able to say that a paper is a review unless the text (or its metadata) says somewhere that this is a review.
    – Bitwise
    Jul 2, 2013 at 16:11

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