Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Managing references and collaboration: Mendeley-style

logo-mendeley2A while back, I wrote a blog about social bookmarking and touched on how reference management tools were moving into the online social realm. With so many types of software available, researchers are spoilt for choice. However, Mendeley, which many scientists in the CGIAR are raving about, seems to have hit the nail hard on the head.

As one WorldFish researcher, Dr. Natasja Sheriff quips enthusiastically, “I’m freely advocating the use of Mendeley- I find it so useful.”

Mendeley lets you create your own online digital library of research papers and academic resources by organizing each document intuitively by author, journal or keyword. It automatically extracts document details (metadata) from PDF research papers making it easily accessible. Additionally, its PDF viewer lets you read, add post-it notes and highlight your documents.

Available as a desktop and web application, a private web account provides an option for you to view and manipulate your bibliography on any computer at any location while keeping it in sync with your desktop version.

Adding another dimension to reference management, researchers now have the power to share their bibliographies with a larger network of people. Whether you create a public reading list or set up shared literature databases, collaboration becomes much easier, and is not limited by location.

How is Mendeley different from other bibliography management software, you ask?

While its storage and sharing functions are similar to EndNote and Zotero, only Mendeley extracts metadata from PDF documents that makes searching and reading them a cinch. (Observations based on the Reference Manager Overview compiled by Martin Fenner, July 20, 2009)

(If you are already using Zotero or CiteULike, you’ll be happy to know that Mendeley can synchronize easily with either of these reference management applications.)

With helpful tools like Folder Monitoring which allows Mendeley Desktop to automatically import new files that are placed in selected folders, as well as the PDF Viewer, researchers have so much to gain. Also the powerful bookmarklet feature that lets you import from Google Scholar easily.

“It appears Mendeley have breathed new life into the way scientists undertake research and the information they now have access to will only enhance the productiveness of their work.”, says James Glick in his blog at the NextWeb.com

As an online reference management tool, Mendeley is making waves in keeping up with the Internet. If you want to organize your references; annotate PDF research papers as is; share them with colleagues and others or discover readership statistics about the latest papers, author and research topics, Mendeley might be a good place to start.

If you would like to know more about Mendeley, ICT-KM is jointly organizing a series of webinars with Mendeley and CGIAR centers that have implemented it and have agreed to share their experiences in January 2010.

Watch this space for details soon.