Automatic building of research papers summary

2 minute read

Keep the summary of research papers

The script here will create an Excel sheet and ask you to paste selected chunks of scientific papers. You end up with an Excel document including specific information about each article you've read.

Before running the program

You need to make sure Python 3 is installed (info here) as well as the module pandas. If the module is not installed, activate python (open your terminal and type python or ipython) and type in:

!pip install pandas

Then you need to make sure you are in the working directory you wanna be in. The program will create an Excel document, if your Desktop is already busy, maybe you should create a new folder and run the script within the new folder.

You can do it by typing in your terminal:

mkdir science_papers_sum    # create a new folder named "science_papers_sum"
cd science_papers_sum       # move into this directory

Now you can download the script (see link above). Put the script file into your newly created folder "science_papers_sum". Go back into your terminal with python (or ipython) activated and type:


1. Select the name of the topic you wanna read article about

For example, let’s say I’m on a new project about the Default Mode Network in Alzheimer, I’d type “DMN_Alzheimer.xls” and press Enter. This action would create a empty dataframe with a column for title, date, authors, journal, methods, results, discussion and other, and save it as an Excel file. If the file already exists, then it will open it.

2. Select what you wanna do with it

Add new entry (0), modify entry (1), show the complete data (2), read a specific entry (3) or save data (4) or press ctrl + c to exit.

Add new entry

Type 0 and press Enter. The program will ask you to paste information about each part.

These parts are pre-defined in the script but you can change them by changing the part of the code at line 17:

self.columns = ["Title", "Authors", "Journal", "Date", "Methods",
                "Results", "Discussion", "Other"]

For example, to add a column named “sample size”, type:

self.columns = ["Title", "Authors", "Journal", "Date", "Sample size", "Methods",
                "Results", "Discussion", "Other"]

The program first asks you about the title, copy paste the title and press Enter. It then asks you if you want to add more in title. Type 0 and press Enter if not. Keep pasting stuff otherwise.

Follow the same procedure for the following columns until it gets back to asking you about what to do next. Then type 4 and press Enter to save the Dataframe into the Excel document.

Modify entry

The program will ask you which index and column to modify. Copy & paste the new value, press Enter. Then type 4 and press Enter to save it.

Show the complete data

This option will print the Dataframe.

Read a specific entry

This option will allow you to read what is in each column of a specific index. You just have to specify the index. If you write *all* or anything else but a number, the program will display all columns of all entries one by one.

Save data

This option will save the Dataframe into the Excel document.

Feel free to improve the code (pull request), to fork the repository or to email me if you have any question