Last week I was sent an email by some chap at Mendeley: “you’d be doing us a huge favour by blogging about us and helping us to spread the word”. If it’s in my sphere of interest I’m generally happy to review web sites, although I must say that it’s a shame that review requests are never for the latest books in the field (publishers please take note)…anyway, back to Mendeley: “helps you manage, share and discover both content and contacts in research.”
The first thing, and the worst thing about Mendeley, is the name. Unfortunately its similarity to the Manderley of Rebecca fame means I keep losing the web site, inserting extra letters and incorrect vowels. Nonetheless first impressions are positive, although it has a long way to go.
The web site allows you to publish your own papers, store copies of other people’s papers (and share them in small groups), store bibliographic information, as well as providing the opportunity to find other researchers and research papers. The desktop application provides a quick method of searching and accessing the papers even if you’re not online. There is also a Mendeley Word plug-in for inserting the data in your Word documents.
There are obvious similarities between Mendeley and Academica.edu, a social networking site for academics, but whereas Academia.edu focuses on the networking, Mendeley focuses on the academic’s primary work with research papers and has the social networking as a secondary factor. Mendeley wins hands down (even without taking into consideration the over-the-top interface of Academia.edu).
Whilst I love Mendeley’s approach, it is still very much in the alpha/beta stages, and you are likely to come across errors and things that could be done better, or just refuse to work. Nonetheless, unlike Academia.edu, this is worth spending some time on and providing them with feedback. Once all the bugs are fixed it will be a useful addition to any academic’s work life.