Mendeley Desktop is a Web-based interactive network for posting, editing, reviewing, and critiquing academic research. If you mashed up Facebook and Outlook with some professional networking features, threw in a dash of scientific interaction (think Berkeley’s BOINC) and pointed the business end at researchers, you’d probably end up with something very much like this. It indexes and organizes your research, papers, PDFs, and other tools into an easy-to-use interface, but its online features also make it easy to access work posted by other researchers as well as access scientific, medical, and technical databases and sites.
Mendeley Desktop requires a free Mendeley account that enables users to share and sync data across multiple computers and mobile devices. The setup wizard let us log in to an existing account or create a new one, which only required a name, e-mail address, and password, though users can enter their research field and status. Clicking the link in the verification email we received opened the main page, the Dashboard, in our browser. In addition to the Dashboard, tabs let us quickly access My Library, Papers, Groups, and People. The program’s toolbar and navigation panel have the familiar feel of a full-featured e-mail client that can sync folders and data with servers and other accounts. For starters, only three toolbar buttons are active: Add Documents, Create Folder, and Sync Library. We clicked Add Documents and browsed to an archive, but it’s just as easy to drag-and-drop documents directly into the program for organizing. Copious help is available for newbies, including video tutorials, local workshops (where available; you can always start one, too!) and even Facebook and Twitter accounts where you can ask questions of experienced users. Like other social networking tools, you can use Mendeley to invite colleagues as well as meet new ones and relocate old ones.
While we can’t cite studies to back it up, we suspect that Mendeley is where a lot of intelligent, highly focused yet widely knowledgeable people (we’ll call them “nerds”) hang out and trade extremely esoteric jokes. But its main purpose is enabling and furthering scientific, academic, and intellectual interaction and cooperation. Like its participants, Mendeley seems more than capable of handling both.
From Mendeley: Mendeley is a research management tool for desktop and Web. Organize your own research library. SHARE with other researchers. DISCOVER new research and trends. Mendeley Desktop is academic software that indexes and organizes all of your PDF documents and research papers into your own personal digital bibliography. It gathers document details from your PDFs allowing you to effortlessly search, organize and cite. It also looks up PubMed, CrossRef, DOIs, and other related document details automatically. Drag and drop functionality makes populating the library quick and easy. The Web Importer allows you to quickly and easily import papers from resources such as Google Scholar, ACM, IEEE and many more at the click of a button. Collaborate with fellow researchers and share information, resources and experiences with shared and public collections. Your research team will have easy access to each others papers. Just create a group, invite your colleagues and drag and drop documents in there. This way you can keep on top of what they’re reading and discover more about what interests you.
Through the Mendeley research network you can connect with other researchers in your field. This opens up a whole new avenue for knowledge discovery. You can view the most read authors, journals and research papers in your field. You can explore by using tags associated with your research area. By navigating the Web of knowledge available to you, you make some useful contacts along the way too. In addition to that, you can also view interesting statistics about your own digital library.
What’s new in this version:
Version 1.9.2 fixed issues where inserting citations in a Word document on Mac is notably faster and importing an EndNote XML library now imports properly all the file attachments.
When it works it s great. When it works.
2013-10-11 11:30:06 | By NanoProfessor
| Version: Mendeley Desktop 1.9.2
It has a lot of really useful features. It has a great interface for reading and annotating pdfs. It works with LibreOffice which is great for linux users. It lets you organize your files into handy folders. And it backs up your pdfs online.
This program crashes *constantly*. I just updated to v1.10.1 and I think it crashes even more than it used to. I work in this every day and it crashes at least 3x per day, most often when I’m attaching a file to a citation. And you have to attach files a lot because it has another problem where it reports “broken chains” to where files are stored. This is really surprising because I have it set to keep its own copy of all the pdfs I add. When I go to fix the broken chain issue I have to point the program to where *it* stored the file. In its own structure. Then it crashes. You can avoid this by having Mendeley backup all your pdfs online, but you eventually run out of space and have to pay for it. I also had to learn not to go through a folder and open everything I might want to read. Because inevitably it crashes and I then have to do this sorting job again (2 or 3 times). You also cannot create a backup that includes your pdfs.
This would be an excellent program if it worked properly. I’ve also noticed that if you google something like “Mendeley crashes daily” you’ll find a support post from two years ago with comments closed. Just in my workplace (academia) it is now common knowledge that Mendeley has these issues. That makes me think that they spend a lot of time cleaning up their online presence. Even for a good program you’d expect more critical posts and questions than you find for this not-good program.
I have too much invested in this to stop using it right away. I’m transitioning to Zotero even though it doesn’t have as nice of a reading/annotating interface.
Updated on Oct 25, 2013
Update: Also make sure to be online when you do work in Mendeley. I sometimes turn off the wifi on my laptop so I can work more dilligently. I recently lost all the work I did one day when Mendeley synced the pdfs I read to the un-annotated version in its cloud-storage, erasing all of my notes and highlights. Back up, back up, back up if you use Mendeley (and probably just use Zotero).
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