Mendeley

Mendeley is a combination web service and desktop application that allows users to create, manage, and share collections of references. As a wider resource, Mendeley serves as a record of academic discourse, creating a statistical model of how individual references spread through the academic community.

Provider

Mendeley Ltd. (acquired by Elsevier in April 2013).

Licensing and cost

The software is free under a custom license. Users can gain additional online capacity and collaboration functionality through a fee-based licensing structure.

Development activity

Version 1.14 of the desktop application and version 2.6 of the iOS app were released in July 2015.

The project has received significant investment capital and is pursuing strategies for monetising the service. In January 2012, Swets released an Institutional Edition aimed at university libraries.

Platform and interoperability

As a web application, Mendeley is platform agnostic; the site advertises that it is compatible with “all modern web browsers.” Mendeley software can be installed in Macintosh, Windows, and Linux environments, and an app is available for iPhone and iPad.

The software includes plugins for integrating with Microsoft Word and Open Office. It supports importing and exporting EndNote XML files, RIS and BibTeX files. Users can import bibliographies from Zotero and Papers; the service also offers document synchronization with CiteULike.

Functional notes

Mendeley’s most basic function is to encourage users to create collections of articles and information sources, which can be entered manually or imported from EndNote™, Papers or Zotero. From these, users can generate citations and bibliographies in Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, and LaTeX. The software manages the user’s PDFs and allows annotations, synchronising the desktop version with an online storage instance that can be shared with others. The software can extract embedded metadata and citation details.

The Institutional Edition links the accounts of individual users to an institutional account, primarily for statistical monitoring purposes (e.g. gauging usage of library holdings).

Documentation and user support

Mendeley’s documentation consists primarily of a FAQ and a number of video tutorials.

Users may contact a support team with questions; the site also offers a feedback forum for suggestions. The project advertises news and updates through its blog.

Usability

The Mendeley web interface is extremely straightforward, and the software installation was designed to be extremely easy; the site advertises that “setting up your library is almost as painless as sunshine and kittens.”

Expertise required

Experience with other citation management systems and standard citation practices is helpful but not necessary.

Standards compliance

The system supports extraction of DOIs, PubmedIDs and ArxivIDs from PDF documents.

Influence and take-up

Press releases from April 2013 indicate that over 2.3 million researchers use Mendeley and that the research database contains more than 380 million documents. In 2015, the website quoted a figure of over 3 million students using the service.

Last reviewed: 
24 July, 2015