Longtime ProfHacker readers will already be familiar with Mendeley, the collaboration-based research manager launched in 2009. Last summer, Julie wrote an introduction to “Using Mendeley for Research Management, which found much to commend while also noticing that the userbase for Mendeley tilts toward the sciences, whereas the userbase for Zotero tilts toward the humanities. Even Zotero users might be interested in Mendeley’s iOS app, however, as Mark has shown how to use it to access Zotero libraries from an iPad.
Today, Mendeley has released the 1.0 version of their cross-platform desktop software, which had already been downloaded over 1 million times during the beta. Those users have so far uploaded over 100 million papers to its collective library. The software makes compiling bibliographies incredibly easy, as it tries to extract bibliographic data from both upload articles and any articles cited therein. You can then share your library in various ways.
Yesterday, the company released this video that explains the basic concept:
(For more video resources, see also their YouTube channel for Mendeley Minutes.)
Mendeley performs just about all the functions you would expect a reference/citations manager to do: It organizes your bibliography and outputs it in various forms (with native plug-ins for Word and Open Office); it lets you read and annotate PDFs; it syncs your library across multiple devices; it lets you create groups to share articles with colleagues; and much else–it even offers recommendations of new articles that might interest you.
New features include the ability to share annotations of articles, better support for nested folders, a paper-duplication detector, and various improvements the PDF viewer and file organizer. Mendeley Desktop is, at least on my Mac, a sleek, thoughtfully designed app.
It’s still the case, I think, that Mendeley will find (at least for now) more immediate users in the sciences, judging by a small detail: In the sign-up menu, the “humanities” is its own category, with a decidedly mixed bag of sub-disciplines grouped underneath. Philosophy, meanwhile, is an equal menu item to the humanities in general. (You can also see this in the # of results on humaniites topics found in Mendeley’s databases, and in the relative ease or difficulty with which some humanities titles are imported.)
Also, for people committed to open-source projects, it is worth noting that Mendeley is not open-source, while Zotero is. Having said that, Mendeley has released an API, and is even sponsoring a contest to build new Creative Commons-licensed apps. It would be hard to accuse them of locking down data.
Mendeley’s new app is definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a citation manager or are otherwise looking to to streamline your research. To me, Mendeley and Zotero are the clear first choices for this kind of tool. (Tools like DevonThink and Evernote strike me as serving slightly different functions.)
Do you use Mendeley for your research library? How has your experience been? Let us know in comments!