Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Mendeley webinar reveals intuitive, easy-to-use tool for online reference management

Last week, over 30 CGIAR staff from CIAT, ICARDA, IFPRI, IRRI, IWMI and the WorldFish Center based in locations all over the world were given the opportunity to learn about  the much talked-about online reference management application, Mendeley in a webinar conducted by Mendeley Director, Jan Reichelt, with input from IFPRI user experiences.

Participants were introduced to both Mendeley Web and Desktop, which allowed synchronization between the applications proving to be versatile for users who work in many locations, and yet not have to rely on one single laptop. Indeed, one of the resource participants (Mendeley user), LuzMarina Alvare, Head of Library & Knowledge Management at IFPRI thought the ‘sync’ option was “way above and beyond”.

Mendeley: My Library - Click to enlarge

Mendeley is growing and taking notice of the expectations and needs of researchers. This is apparent in the way improvements to Mendeley Web and Desktop are being made. Already, users can keep track of often-bookmarked articles and view real-time impact statistics.

In addition, users can create professional profiles and look for like-minded researchers within their research field /community. These are additional paths that new researchers can use to gain insights from others. Researchers from multi-disciplinary fields also stand to gain from the vast and varied scientific community already plugged into Mendeley.

Acknowledging that since research is inherently ‘social'; and tools and data aren’t, Jan Reichelt added that Mendeley sought to bridge this gap with collaborative functions that allow your reference resources to be shared. Useful for paper writing collaboration and also for shared reference lists, Mendeley has deliberately kept things simple.

The interface is so intutitive (it’s all just drag and drop), people can learn that fast, says Bernhard Hack, Head of Web and Knowledge Services at ICARDA.

Automatic reference insertion into Word - Click to enlarge

While the idea of online collaboration leaves many a scientist fearful of the confusing array of collaborative tools and software, what Mendeley offers in terms of collaboration is straightforward. You and your colleagues want to write a paper, whether you decide to collaborate online or offline (if you’re lucky enough to be in the same location), there will always be the issue of compiling your bibliography list. At the touch of a button, Mendeley lets you go between the document you write to your existing reference list on your computer or your Mendeley web account. So the bibliography is created automatically as your paper is being written!

With a relatively small learning curve, Mendeley Web and Desktop are helping researchers not only manage and organize their research papers online, but also ensure that they are able to tap into the future, making your papers and resources ‘online collaboration-ready’. And as feedback shows, the webinars have already sparked a growing community of users within the CGIAR.

Till next time…

P/S: A glowing comment on the logistics of this web seminar (webinar). We (Mendeley/ ICT-KM/IFPRI) organized 2 sessions to cater to different timezones (we used gotomeeting). Participants signed in from locations in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Colombia,  Egypt, Germany, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, UK (Mendeley)  and USA. The sessions involved slide presentations, user demonstrations and Q&A – all of which worked seamlessly… how’s that for ‘global online meeting’!

Photo credit: Microsoft Clipart