Recently a colleague reminded me about Mendeley. Its name is reminiscent of Mendel or Mendeleev, and probably the scientific allusion is intentional. It’s a fairly new popular academic and scientific research citation and PDF management tool, usable both on your desktop and online. An excellent feature of this tool is that it automatically extracts bibliographic data from a user’s document library and stores that on their computer or in the cloud. It’s free for now and here’s some of the things it can do:
- Documents that you select can be tagged and easily organized into collections.
- PDFs can be annotated in an easier fashion that other citation software I’ve used in the past (sorry Endnote & Refworks)
- Allows for you to automatically import any new PDFs saved into a specific folder that you’ve selected on your computer
- Search for papers based on what you’re reading
- Access your papers from anywhere online
Of added interest to researchers, you can also use Mendeley to view trends in your search area, find out how many people are reading & downloading your papers, and also get suggestions on interesting articles that are related to your research.
Documents that you download can be tagged and then organized into collections. PDFs can be annotated very easily. Free collections that are shared can include PDFs and be shared with up to 10 individuals. This type of sharing might raise some copyright issues, so that’s something to think about.
I also like that after you register for Mendeley, you can create groups based on your interest. These groups are browsable online. Some examples can be viewed in the image below:
There are a lot of other citation tools out there, so it will be interesting to see if Mendeley has staying power. The major advantage it offers in my mind is that it makes PDFs so incredibly easy to annotate, organize and share. The downside is that Mendeley is backed by a private company and currently free. Pricing may change, but also these free tools tend to come and go rather easily. Let’s hope Mendeley stays around for a while.