guest blog contests  Helping PhD Students To Be More Productive With Mendeley; win a four year collaboration plan

The PhD time of a researcher’s life may be one of the most trying times; you work long hours for little pay, but at the end of the tunnel is the satisfaction of a thesis and good work done. But it can sometimes be hard to stay motivated throughout.

Mendeley is teaming up with Next Scientist, a site and community dedicated to “helping PhD students stay motivated, graduate, and then find a job in industry,” run by Julio Peironcely, PhD.

Here is more from Julio about his love of Mendeley and our The Next Scientist promotion!

You know that feeling when you discover a new product that makes you wonder how you lived without it before?
I had that when I switched my note taking in pieces of paper to a Moleskine. And when I went digital and I started using Evernote. Or when I ditched that Windows Vista laptop for a Macbook pro.
It’s that feeling of using a superior product. You know what I am talking about, right? I had that feeling with several products during my PhD.
I had that feeling at the start of my PhD. That was fall of 2008, right after the first release of Mendeley. Before that, for my master’s thesis, I had used a certain reference manager, let’s call it NotaFinal.
Not liking NotaFinal at all, I switched to Mendeley to give it a try … and I got that special feeling. I went from the absolute pain of adding the bibliography to “oh, I just added all the citations and I hardly had to do a thing”.
Well, I guess I don’t need to convince you of the virtues of Mendeley, right? You wouldn’t be reading this here at Mendeley’s blog if you were not aware of them.
If you are still with me, allow me to do a shameless plug for my blog.
Next Scientist, a blog for PhD students
Next Scientist started as a self-help blog. I wrote advice I would give to myself during the darkest months of my PhD (you know the PhD dip, the Valley of Shit). To be honest, I had plenty of those dark months. I thought that if I wrote this advice out in the public, I would be forced to follow it.
Writing an academic blog helped. I got out of the Phd dip and eventually finished my PhD.
The unexpected result of the blog was that it resonated with other PhD students. I was not alone in this suffering. Slowly but steadily visitors started coming to the site. Thank you emails began dripping in my inbox.
All this gave me joy. Think about it. How many times do you get a thank you email during your PhD? In my case, zero. Thank you emails for my blogging efforts? More than I can count.
I am so thankful for my readers that I thought I wanted to give back something meaningful. Something that could make their PhDs easier and better. Since I didn’t have much to offer myself, I looked around for somebody that might have some useful product for my readers.
Giving away 5 Premium Mendeley Team Plans (for 4 years)
So this was my thinking. On the one hand I have my readers, to whom I want to show my gratitude. Let’s give them something that can benefit them.
On the other hand, I have my network. I had interacted a couple of times with people at Mendeley and I knew they were cool and forward thinking, so they could be interested in some partnership.
The idea was to give something of value (Mendeley Premium) to my readers and at the same time help a product I love (Mendeley) reach the audience it deserves (Next Scientist readers).
The chaps at Mendeley were all enthusiastic. Not only this, to make it a bit more fun, they suggested to give five Premium Team Plans of 4 years, which is what (in theory) a PhD should last. Match made in heaven, I would say.
You heard it right, we are giving away five 4-year Premium Mendeley Team Plans to the readers of Next Scientist and Mendeley blogs.
Here’s what you need to know about the Mendeley giveaway
It’s a contest/lottery draw. You just need to register with your email (and share it with your colleagues to win more entries) to have a chance to win one of the five premium accounts. 

This is what you will get the next 4 years with a Premium Team Plan from Mendeley.

  • 100GB cloud space = all the papers you will read in a lifetime, almost. That’s a bit more than the 2GB of the free account.
  • Unlimited private groups with up to 15 collaborators. So you can share papers and collaborate with your colleagues.
  • Each account is worth $6,000 and you can get one for free!!
  • You will get the chance to write for Mendeley’s blog your story on how you are using the Premium Plan in your research.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Go to the Mendeley giveaway page.
  • Register with your email
  • Share with your colleagues and friends (the more you share the more chances of winning you have)
The giveaway action runs till December 14th at midnight CET. From all the entries 5 winners will be drawn and awarded a Premium Mendeley Team Plan for 4 years.

Click here to enter the Next Scientist competition to win a Premium Team Plan from Mendeley.

 

Also check out a post by Julio at The Thesis Whisperer, which we really enjoyed!

Congratulations and Thank you to Yangki Suara! Yangki is a researcher at the Center for Economics and Development Studies, Padjadjaran University (CEDS UNPAD). His research interest include environmental economics, international development and poverty especially in emerging countries. The main reason why he works in research sector because it allows him to keep learning about different new things that are happening worldwide.

mendeley advisors advisor of the month  Congratulations November Advisor of the Month — Yangki Suara!Currently he is studying for his master degree at King’s College London on Emerging Economies and Inclusive Development. He received his BA in Economics from Faculty of Economics and Business, Padjadjaran University in Indonesia. He also an alumnus of the Study of the United States Institute (SUSI) on Energy and Environment, hosted by Institute for Training and Development, Amherst (ITD-Amherst), MA, USA.

How long have you been on Mendeley?

I just checked my email and I found out that I have been using Mendeley since July 2012. Dr. Arief Yusuf, my director at the Center for Economics and Development Studies, Padjadjaran University (CEDS UNPAD) introduced me to Mendeley.

What were you using prior to Mendeley?

EndNote and RefWorks. I used EndNote from 2006 while I was studying at Padjadjaran University. From 2010 prior to Mendeley, I used RefWorks prior to my summer school at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA. 

How does Mendeley influence your research?

Mendeley save my time with its automatic references and it also helps me find some similar research papers with its Mendeley Suggest’s button. At the moment, I used Mendeley to help me dealing with my reading materials at King’s College London that is a lot. I synchronize my reading materials between Mendeley Desktop with my iPad so I can read it while I’m in a bus or while I’m traveling by train.

Why did you decide to become an Advisor?

I decided to sign up as an Advisor because it’s a good opportunity for me to promote Mendeley. At that time there was only one Advisor in Bandung and only a few in Indonesia. As an Advisor, Mendeley also provide me with some Mendeley stuff to help me promoting Mendeley through open sessions, Mendeley workshops and other opportunities. Participants love it because they get the knowledge and also Mendeley’s promotion materials.

How have you been spreading the word about Mendeley?

Organized Mendeley sessions at Padjadjaran University with a help from Economics Department for undergraduate and master students. I have organized several Mendeley at King’s College London for my peer students. In addition, I use mailing list, personal website, social networks and one-to-one approach to promote Mendeley.

What book are you reading at the moment and why?

I am reading “Why Nations Fail” by Daren Acemoglu & David Robinson to support my reading on States, Markets and Institutions module at King’s College London. It’s a remarkable book in explaining why some nations rich and other poor while they have the same cultural background, location and climate.

Any fun fact people might be surprised to learn about you?mendeley advisors advisor of the month  Congratulations November Advisor of the Month — Yangki Suara!

The fact that I have been traveling to 16 countries in Europe, Asia, North America and Africa in the last 6 years. Looking forward to travel to Latin America and Australia in the upcoming years.

What is the best part about being a researcher?

Traveling around Indonesia for some training and field project, and meeting with other remarkable experts in my research field.

And the worst?

Sometime you have to work on several projects in the same time with a tight deadline. In the end, you have to enjoy it because this is the consequence of being a researcher.

What is the one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?
Mendeley team are awesome, they responded to your questions quickly. I am so lucky that I met them personally and I had a chance visited Mendeley HQ while I am studying in London.

 

It’s hard not to throw too many bouquets at our Desktop Team. The Mendeley Desktop is at the heart of Mendeley as a referencing tool, the first thing you download after signing up to use Mendeley. The Desktop team is always hard at work iterating and improving the Desktop App — you can always read the release notes on our website to know the latest and greatest. Recently, the team worked together with several other teams here to introduce support for importing articles in MEDLINE format, to enable better bulk importing from PubMed. This is useful for medical researchers, who use this for systematic literature reviews. The team is already working with beta testers on the next iteration of Mendeley Desktop, a version that paves the way for our iOS and Android apps!

Vincent Delannoy — Team Lead

meettheteam community relations  Meet the Desktop Team!Vincent’s past positions are, in order: military Flight simulator, phone operator, finance, visual arts, mobile phones, maps, finance, finance, video, research. What finally led him to London is the french immigration services, and Londoners in general.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

As a team leader, I’m responsible for the well being of the team. That includes writing code, communicating with other teams to solve cross-team issues, promote good practices, promoting projects that will make the desktop code better, more scalable and easier to understand for new starters, taking decisions when there is no consensus on what to do.

What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?

A happy team

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

baby sitting / playing music / drawing / painting

 

George Kartvelishvili —Senior Software Engineer

meettheteam community relations  Meet the Desktop Team!George was born in Tbilisi, Georgia back in the Soviet days. He developed his love of computers from an early age due to his dad’s ZX-81 and Atari ST. He moved to England with his family in the mid-nineties and studied Computer Science (BSs) and Advanced Computer Science (MSc) at the University of Manchester. Soon after graduating, he headed down to London to seek his fortune and adventures in the games industry. After 10+ years as a graphics and gameplay programmer creating electronic entertainment for PC and consoles in a variety of companies including Rockstar Games, he decided to join the thriving London startup scene. He joined Mendeley in 2012 and is now busy maintaining and improving the desktop client.

How do you describe your role on the Desktop Team?

My role involves looking after the workings of our Mendeley Desktop client. This has mostly involved extending and improving the user interface and a large chunk of behind the scenes work.

What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?

My favourite part of working in Mendeley is the casual friendly atmosphere about the place and the underlying feeling that I might be doing something just a little bit good for the progress of science.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I do a fair bit of “recreational” programming, enjoy a good bit of DIY and I like travelling and tasting the local cuisines of the world. Although, recently my life has gotten a lot more interesting and my spare time is mostly filled with rocking a baby to sleep and changing nappies.

 

Robert Knight — Senior Software Engineer

meettheteam community relations  Meet the Desktop Team!Rob studied Computer Science at Southampton University. During that time he was a contributor to the KDE desktop for Linux. Arrived at Mendeley via a recommendation from an employee he met at their annual aKademy conference.
Connect with him at Twitter @robknight_.

How do you describe your role on the Desktop Team?

I work on all areas of the desktop app across all platforms. I work on end user facing features to make the app a more useful, and hopefully delightful, tool for researchers to use, as well as infrastructure to help us improve and maintain the stability of the app and deliver updates to users.

What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?

I like working on a tool that makes a difference in people’s working lives and makes them more productive researchers. It’s also great to be in the heart of London’s busy tech scene.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I run and cycle with my local athletics club and hack on various open source projects to keep myself in the loop about new and evolving technology.

 

 

Carles Pina — Software Engineer

meettheteam community relations  Meet the Desktop Team!Carles was born and grew up in Manresa, near Barcelona. He studied computer engineering in Barcelona, worked at Elvior (Estonia) and Lexatel Technologies (Barcelona). He was involved in Linux User Groups in Catalonia and collaborated in different free software projects. In June 2009, Carles moved to London to join Mendeley. Connect with him online at his homepage and a blog.

How do you describe your role on the Desktop Team?

We all implement features and fix bugs. I always try to improve the CSL (Citation Style Language, used for citations and bibliographies) integration with Mendeley.

What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?

Make our users happy helping them to be more productive. Seeing that users like Mendeley, find it useful, etc
Another really good part is the colleagues in the office.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In no particular order: programming (usually Python outside working hours, for a change), play table tennis, hiking (recently I finished the London LOOP), travelling…

 

Arnau Josep Rosselló Castelló — C++ Developer

meettheteam community relations  Meet the Desktop Team!Monday was literally Arnau’s first day! His background is in the games industry and finance (yes, both).
How do you describe your role on the Desktop Team?
Newbie
What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?
The newness of it all
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Climbing, Rollerblading, and catching offers on Steam

 

The 15 science start-ups competing through the Axon@LeWeb, the latest project from Elsevier’s VP of Strategy and Mendeley Co-founder and CEO Victor Henning , were announced. The start-ups include some Mendeley collaborators, such as WriteLaTeX, Shazino and LabFolder, and we’re excited to see how they are changing the way we do research.

Missed the deadline or not shortlisted? There is still an opportunity for your startup to attend LeWeb!

Victor tell us more:

On December 9 at LeWeb, we are bringing together 15 of the world’s most exciting science & research startups in a session entitled Axon@LeWeb. These startups are building tools that change how we do research, that help the best minds of our generations work more efficiently, that accelerate the progress of knowledge.

We have received amazing applications from all over the world for the 15 available slots at Axon@LeWeb and would like to thank all startups who applied. It is exciting to see the creativity, diversity, and impact of tools being built to advance science.

Here are the 15 startups selected to present at LeWeb on December 9 (click on their names to find out more about them):

Expernova (France) – Your innovation search engine

Kudos (UK)  – Increasing research impact

LabFolder (Germany) – The digital lab notebook

Monocl (Sweden)  – Intuitive analytics for life science professionals

Newsflo (UK)  – Media monitoring for research institutions

Overleaf (UK) – Modern authoring tools for research

Protocols.io (USA) – GitHub for protocols – an up-to-date crowdsourced repository of science methods

Publons (New Zealand) – Turning peer review into a measurable research output

Science Exchange (USA)  – A marketplace for scientific collaboration, where researchers can order experiments from the world’s best labs

Sciencescape (Canada)  – Discover and share breaking research from the world’s scientific pioneers and innovators

Shazino (France) – Next gen web & mobile apps for smart scientists

Sparrho (UK) – Aggregating, distilling, and recommending the best scientific discoveries for you

Standard Analytics (USA)  – Organising the world’s scientific information

The Winnower (USA) – DIY Scientific Publishing

Transcriptic (USA) – On-demand, robotic cloud laboratory for molecular and cell biology research

 

Please join us on at LeWeb (December 9, 14.00-17.00 in conference room 1, 2nd floor, Pullman Dock) to see these startups present the future of science!

If you’re a science/research startup who missed selection for the shortlist, have no fear! Submit your company here and you may qualify for a special discounted LeWeb pass uncategorized  The Future of Science: 15 science & research startups selected to present at LeWeb

 

Victor Henning is CEO & co-founder of Mendeley, a science startup acquired last year by Elsevier (which, like LeWeb organiser Reed MIDEM, is part of Reed Elsevier Group).

By Joyce Stack, API Developer Outreach

Back in July I stumbled across writeLaTeX after a ‘tweet archaeology’ exercise where I found this old tweet, which mentioned integrating with Mendeley. So I promptly got in touch with the folks at writeLaTeX and we collaborated together to make it possible to import Mendeley bibliography into their writeLaTeX projects. WriteLaTeX “is an online service that allows you to create, edit and share your scientific ideas using LaTex.”

And now, not only can you import your Mendeley reference library into writeLaTeX, but try writeLaTeX Pro for 50% off as a Mendeley user!

Here is writeLaTeX co-founder John Lees-Miller on the Mendeley writeLaTeX integration:

news guest blog developer resources  Mendeley and writeLaTeX integration is here!

It’s here! The feature you’ve been asking for since we first launched our bibliography manager integration in September. You can now import your reference library directly from Mendeley to writeLaTeX, to make it easy to manage your references and citations in your projects.

This is thanks to a concerted effort from our development team – Tim Alby in particular – and the Mendeley API team with whom we’ve been working in order to refine and improve the BibTeX output from the API.

To see how it works, check out the illustrated guide below. We’re also pleased to offer a special promotion for all Mendeley users – save 50% on writeLaTeX Pro!

 

 

Using the new Mendeley reference importer in writeLaTeX

How does it work? It’s very simple – from the project menu in the editor select Add files -> Add bibliography, which brings up the bibliography import screen:

news guest blog developer resources  Mendeley and writeLaTeX integration is here!

news guest blog developer resources  Mendeley and writeLaTeX integration is here!

 

 

The first time you do this, you’ll be prompted to connect your Mendeley account with your writeLaTeX account:

news guest blog developer resources  Mendeley and writeLaTeX integration is here!

And then to authorise this on the Mendeley website:

news guest blog developer resources  Mendeley and writeLaTeX integration is here!

 

Once the accounts are linked, all you need to do is choose a name for the Mendeley bibliography file in the project:

news guest blog developer resources  Mendeley and writeLaTeX integration is here!

Once the file has been uploaded into the project, you can use it with bibtex in the usual way:

news guest blog developer resources  Mendeley and writeLaTeX integration is here!

If you add more references to your Mendeley library, you can refresh the link to pull in the new .bib content (and the file can also be refreshed via the project menu).

Save 50% on writeLaTeX Pro if you’re a Mendeley user

To mark this feature launch, we’re pleased to offer a special promotion to all Mendeley users – you can get a full year of writeLaTeX Pro for only $48, a 50% discount on the regular price.

To take advantage of this offer, simply head to the promo page and claim your discount today!*

*Promotion runs until 31st December 2014. Please see promo page for terms and conditions.

 

 

guest blog  Inspiring Women in Technology

By: Paula Clerkin, 3rd year CS with AI student at the University of Nottingham

As a third and final year, I am having to come to terms with the end of my time at university. It’s pretty daunting thinking about leaving this lovely bubble of support and finding a proper job in the real world.

Over the past few years, I have tallied up a rather impressive number of attendances to careers events across the country. I like to think that I’ve learned new things at each event but I find I’ve always come away feeling a little disheartened and overwhelmed by the tough requirements and competition. These events manage to, rather heavy handily coerce attendees into applying for internships and grad schemes using impressive facts, figures and shiny benefits. These careers events are missing something. They don’t inspire their attendees.

Although I’ve been to many career events, I still don’t know what path I should take. This is why I am organising Inspire Women In Technology (WIT).

Inspire WIT is a day to celebrate the female individuals working within the technology industry. We have fascinating speakers from all walks of life talking about their personal experiences of working in the industry. They all have different backgrounds and areas, yet they share the same drive and passion for technology.

I find every one of our speakers inspiring. These are the ladies that I adamantly follow on Twitter, I read their blogs and I aspire to do what they do. But I want to know more; I want to know about how they got where they are, the stories behind the decisions they’ve made and I want to listen to their advice. And I know I’m not the only one.

I think it’s about time there was a day for everyone; tech enthusiasts, non-programmers, students at college and university, women and men, to come together and see how truly vast and impressive the technology industry is and how everyone can be part of it.

But it’s not just about talks. The second half of the day will consist of workshops, mini-events and networking opportunities. An Introduction to Programming for Beginners run by Code Club, How to Tackle a Technical Interview by Bloomberg and a live Ethical Hack in 10 by CapitalOne, are just a few of the workshops attendees can go to. There are of course and hardware hack and an all-important careers talk. There truly is something for everyone.

Although networking sounds formal, Inspire WIT attendees will be able to meet and mingle with representatives from the best technology companies around. I have added mini-events such as retro game stations, Oculus’ and a photo booth. There is no pressure, no speed-networking; the emphasis is on taking your time, asking all your questions and most importantly, being inspired and having fun!

I want Inspire WIT to be an opportunity for over 200 attendees to discover their potential and learn more about such a fascinating industry. If there is only one thing that Inspire WIT helped just one person discover, then we have done our job.

events 2  Science Startups meet at Le Web 2014

Since becoming Elsevier’s VP of Strategy, Mendeley Co-founder and CEO Victor Henning has been up to a lot of exciting stuff. Here he tells us a bit about his latest project, Axon, which is stirring things up by bringing together the best and brightest new startups in the fields of Science and Research at Le Web 2014.

Over the last few years, I have watched something interesting happen in the world of science: Tech startups and VCs suddenly care about scientists. Strangely, this wasn’t always the case.

When the World Wide Web was invented at CERN, its original purpose was to help manage and share scientific information about particle accelerator experiments. Yet, with the exception of a few search engines, document repositories, and journal databases, the web remained barren of well-designed tools and applications engineered for scientists.

Instead, the last 15 years witnessed the explosion of the consumer web and mobile apps, fueled by advertising revenue. Jeff Hammersbacher, an early Facebook data science employee (and now founder of Cloudera), summed it up as:

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks. If instead of pointing their incredible infrastructure at making people click on ads, they pointed it at great unsolved problems in science, how would the world be different today?”

How indeed? We might be watching hilarious cat gifs on the screens of our flying cars.

Around 2008, things started to change: A small wave of bootstrapped startups began building document management tools, social networks, and recommendation engines for scientists. Among them was Mendeley, my own company. Grown out of our own frustrations as researchers, my co-founders and I built Mendeley to make science more open, more efficient, and more collaborative. Getting started wasn’t easy – many VCs turned us down because they saw research as a “niche”. We nonetheless managed to convince a couple of angel investors (among them the founders of Skype) to invest in us.

After launching in 2009, we came to LeWeb to participate in the startup competition. I have the fondest memories of the event – a freezing, pre-Christmas Paris in December, and Dave McClure, the famously foul-mouthed Silicon Valley angel investor, tweeting his sexual arousal at seeing our pitch:

Events like LeWeb helped put us on the map with international investors, press, and potential users. From there, Mendeley grew to a research platform connecting more than 3.5 million researchers in 180 countries, with institutional customers like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT. In April 2013, we were acquired by Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of science and health information.

Without wanting to claim undue credit, quite a few Ph.D. students and Postdocs who became entrepreneurs themselves have told me that Mendeley was an inspiration for them: It proved that tools for researchers could go from garage to global audience, and it proved to potential investors that the “niche” could also deliver sizeable exits.

We are now seeing the emergence of a second wave of venture-backed research startups, offering a much wider range of scientific workflow tools. They help scientists keep electronic versions of lab notebooks, organize and share experimental data, order lab materials, write papers collaboratively, outsource experiments to other labs and to the cloud, get credit for peer reviews, launch their own journals, and even raise crowdfunding for their research projects.

It’s time to give this movement more visibility. Elsevier and LeWeb 2014 are teaming up to run a half-day event called Axon@LeWeb (in case you’re wondering – in the brain, axons are the fibres that carry impulses from neurons to other nerve cells). We want to bring together the most exciting science and research startups – the ones that build tools for the best minds of our generation, to help them crack those great unsolved problems.

Startups can apply online here, and we already have applications from amazing companies in the US, Canada, Sweden, France, the UK, and Germany. The 15 best startups will receive a free ticket to LeWeb 2014, as well as the opportunity to present at Axon@LeWeb and network with the hottest companies in this space. Even if your startup is not among the 15 selected to present, Elsevier is sponsoring a €200 discount on the regular startup ticket for all science and research startups that want to join us at LeWeb.

Applications for Axon@LeWeb close on Sunday, 16th November, at midnight CET, and the winning startups will be announced by Tuesday, 18th November.

Hope to see you in Paris in December!

guest blog  Is Crowdfunding a Good Option for Your Research?

By: Nick Dragojlovic, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia

Picture this… It’s 8am. You take your first sip of coffee, ready to start your day. You check your email and…

You find out your latest grant application didn’t get funded. Bummer.

You give it a couple of days to get over the feeling of rejection, and then start working on your next application. Rinse and repeat until you either: 1) land the grant that will keep your research program going, or 2) run out of funding and have to leave academia.

You tell yourself that in an era of budget austerity, this is just what a researcher’s life entails.

Then, in a flight of fancy, you image that maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. Maybe you could crowdfund your next research project and show the narrow-minded review committees you were right. After all, if glowing plants raised half a million dollars, you could raise $10,000 to run your study. No?

Well, maybe.

——————-

Crowdfunding can be a viable option to obtain research funds, but it’s hard work and it’s not a cash machine. So if you’re thinking about crowdfunding one of your research projects, use this Q&A to help you decide whether it’s worth the effort.

Q: How much money can I raise through crowdfunding?

A: Like so much in life, it depends.

Based on a range of estimates, the vast majority of research crowdfunding campaigns to date have raised $7,000 or less.

Some research teams, however, have managed to raise a whole lot more. If you happen to be working on Ebola during a panic-inducing epidemic, you can raise a hundred thousand dollars in short order. In fact, medical research campaigns seem to be able to raise significantly more than the average figures. A study published in Drug Discovery Today, for example, found that 97 crowdfunding campaigns focused on cancer research raised an average of about $45,500 each.

The larger amounts raised by many medical research projects are in large part due to alliances between researchers and existing medical research foundations, who are typically much better placed to raise money. The Tisch MS Center, for example, recently raised over $300,000 on Indiegogo to help fund a Phase I clinical trial of a stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis. And in perhaps the most impressive example to date, a coalition of foundations have raised over $2 million to support a Phase I trial for Abeona Therapeutics’ experimental gene therapy for Sanfillipo Syndrome.

Long story short, the amount you can plausibly raise through crowdfunding will depend on how appealing your project is to potential donors and on how big of an audience you have at your disposal, but will most likely be under $10,000.

Q: What can I do to increase my chances of success?

A: Build an audience.

Fundraising takes a lot of work. Ultimately, you’ll only attract sufficient donations if you actually ask a lot of people for money. This means you’ll have to go beyond your own personal network, and the single most important thing you can do to make that easier is to invest in building a personal following long before you even think about launching a crowdfunding campaign.

Thankfully, social media makes this possible even if you don’t get invited to appear on TV on a regular basis. In fact, building up a sizeable online audience could be worth tens of thousands of crowdfunding dollars a year. Twitter, email, and the number of media contacts fundraisers made, for example, were the three key drivers of donations in the #SciFund Challenge campaigns. In fact, taken together, Facebook (38%) and Twitter (12%) drove half of the total traffic to Hubbub, a crowdfunding service provider that focuses on higher education and non-profits. So you really need to build your online network if you’re going to crowdfund.

One thing to keep in mind is that running even a small crowdfunding campaign can help to build your audience, and that the true value of your audience goes way beyond the money you raise in your first campaign. Not only can you go back to your donors in subsequent crowdfunding campaigns, but if you keep engaging with your new followers, they will also follow you over the course of your career, and could potentially connect you to new collaborators, high-net-worth philanthropists, and investors years down the line.

Q: Which crowdfunding platform should I use?

A: It probably doesn’t matter much.

If you’ve built a large following before launching a campaign (you have, haven’t you?), then the choice of crowdfunding platform is less important than you might think, since you’ll be driving most donors to the fundraising page yourself. That said, there are a range of options.

Most smaller projects use one of the niche research-focused portals. Some of these have geographic limitations about where project creators can be based, and you’ll want to check with your university to make sure that your campaign complies with institutional policies. Be warned that most of these sites also take a percentage of any money donated (usually between 5% and 10%) as a commission.

An alternative might be to use your university’s own crowdfunding portal. More and more universities are creating their own crowdfunding sites for faculty, staff, students, and alumni to use, and they typically do not take a cut of the donations. In addition, the service providers used by many of these universities, such as Hubbub, offer in-person training and marketing advice for prospective fundraisers. If your university doesn’t have its own platform, you might also consider Hubbub’s open crowdfunding site, which doesn’t take any commissions.

Finally, a new set of online fundraising platforms for researchers are aiming to move beyond the traditional campaign-centered crowdfunding model, and to fund researchers instead of research projects. If you’re interested in doing video-based science outreach and getting viewers to “sponsor” you, you can try Thinkable, and if you’re thinking about fundraising to support your medical research lab over the long-term, you might want to check out LabCures.

Ultimately, though, the choice of platform is not as important as actually starting to talk to the public about your research and building a community of supporters.

Q:  So should I try to crowdfund my research?

A: Yes, if the conditions are right.

For most researchers (i.e., if you’re not already a super-star with a huge media presence), crowdfunding might make sense if you meet any or all of these three criteria:

  • You have an experiment that you could do for under $10,000, and data from this experiment could help you to attract funding from other sources.
  • You have a very marketable topic and/or you have the backing of a foundation or other group with an existing network of donors and supporters.
  • You want to build your online network as a long-term investment – i.e., it’s not about the money, but crowdfunding can provide the impetus for you to put in the work necessary to build your network.

And if you’re still not sure, you can always ask the crowd.

What do you think? Have you looked to crowdfunding to enable your research, or are thinking about putting together your first campaign? Join the conversation on our Mendeley Crowdfunding Group or tweet @NickDragojlovic

Nick Dragojlovic is a Vancouver-based science communication researcher passionate about how crowdfunding can be used to accelerate scientific research and biomedical innovation. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and writes about crowdfunding scientific research at Funded Science.

mendeley advisors guest blog  Midwest Scholars ConferenceMendeley loves our Advisors and recently one of our Advisors, Chris Devers hosted a session at the Midwest Scholars Conference. He tells us about his session in today’s Guest Blog Post:

Recently, Mendeley sponsored the Midwest Scholars Conference. At the conference, I provided a seminar that demonstrated some of Mendeley’s advanced features. During the seminar, participants described how they used Mendeley in their research process and asked how I use Mendeley in my research. They were thrilled to learn that I use it in all my projects and that I provide frequent seminars on Mendeley that are streamed live and recorded for later viewing.

All the participants at the seminar were actively using Mendeley but wanted to learn more about Mendeley’s advanced features. For example, some participants wanted to learn more about groups and how to collaborate with colleagues, and were pleased to learn that Mendeley could rename files by author, date, etc.

In addition to showing the attendees how the group feature worked and facilitated collaboration, I also demonstrated how I use the group feature in my own research and collaborate with others. Specifically, when I am working on a project with colleagues or students, everyone involved uses Mendeley to share, annotate, and organize relevant literature. All of our notes, highlights, and comments are shared across the group, as well as when we add articles. It also provides a place for us to discuss the literature — all of our research is in one location and not spread-out over multiple documents, email, etc.

For example, one of our projects explores note-taking and learning, and a student who works with me, Christine Lee (Ph.D. student at UCLA), uploaded an article from Psychological Science comparing pen note-taking versus computer note-taking. If we had used email to share the article, we both would have had to enter the information separately, which would not be as efficient as using Mendeley.

Mendeley is not simply a reference manager, but rather it helps us facilitate and manage our research projects, and provides us with new recommendations as we build the literature base for the project.

guest blog  Mendeley Debates At Cambridge : Do We Need A ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ ?

By: Gabriel Hughes, VP Web Analytics at Elsevier

Images © Chris Williamson, courtesy of the Cambridge Union Society 

Should we have the right to require websites to ‘forget’ or ‘delete’ stories and posts about us which we find embarrassing or just don’t want other people to see? Should people be able to force search engines to remove links to information like that? Do individuals need more legal powers to control their personal data online?

As a growing technology company based in London, Mendeley finds itself drawn into many of the great debates facing the technology sector in Europe today, and we take this responsibility very seriously.

guest blog  Mendeley Debates At Cambridge : Do We Need A ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ ?

This October, we were proud to sponsor the prestigious Cambridge Union Society as it debated the ‘The Right To Be Forgotten’, a contentious issue following recent legal developments in Europe.

Under a ruling made in May, in a case brought against Google, European citizens may now demand that search engines remove links to online public information about them. This is the current legal interpretation of the ‘right to be forgotten’, a concept which has been debated for some years and is outlined in the EU’s Data Protection Directive drafted back in the 1990s. This ethical and legal issue is still evolving and whatever finally emerges is likely to have far reaching implications for the internet for many decades to come.

I entered the debate from my personal position, one that is also informed by my experience working at Google, which is of course the company most significantly affected by this new ruling. My fellow teammates in opposition were the MP for Cambridge Julian Huppert,  Mariam Cook, CEO of Position Dial, and Alistair McCapra, CEO of Chartered Institute of Public Relations. The side in proposition of the motion was led by David Smith, Deputy Commissioner at the Information Commissioner’s Office, and also included Jon Crowcroft,  Professor of Communications Systems at Cambridge, Gavin Phillipson, Chair of Law at Durham University and also Emma Carr, Director of Big Brother Watch. Each of these expert speakers brought considerable depth of knowledge and unique perspectives to this complex issue.

guest blog  Mendeley Debates At Cambridge : Do We Need A ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ ?

My argument in opposition was based not on a disagreement with the right to privacy or control over one’s personal information, quite the contrary. It focused on the deep flaws in the recent European court ruling, which targeted search engines and technology companies, who are not responsible for what publishers and individuals post online. A perverse outcome of the ruling is that in asking Google to delete a link to something you do not like, they are put in a position where they alone have to judge whether it is in fact right for them to do so, leaving the publisher under no obligation to delete the offending post itself. The information remains online, and search engines are forced into a censorship role which few can defend.

In my opinion, search engines are just a part of the navigational infrastructure that enables the internet to function, together with social networks, wiki pages, feeds and the hypertext link itself, and this ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling confuses navigational linking technology with the content that it points to. Nobody seems to think it is a good idea to force Google into this new Big Brother role where it now tries to arbitrate what websites can share online, and this new right turns the neutral and automated role of a search engine on its head.

The opposing team also pointed out that many of the worst cases where private or embarrassing information has been posted online are already covered under data protection, harassment and privacy laws. New laws have a habit of creating unintended consequences that could lead us down a dark path of censorship and excessive regulation, they warned.

guest blog  Mendeley Debates At Cambridge : Do We Need A ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ ?

In the end, this team opposing the right to be forgotten won the debate. Before entering the debate chamber 40 per cent of the audience indicated they supported the motion ‘this house supports the right to be forgotten’, but after hearing the debate, the balance of the vote had shifted against, with the ‘nay’ side winning by 35 per cent to 30.

Yet the debate highlighted the complexity of the issue and this was reflected in how close the vote ended and in how many felt compelled to abstain. Indeed, one audience member spoke up ask whether the debate was about the principle of the Right To Be Forgotten, or the actual right in law now defined by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Some of those arguing in support of the proposition did not seem to think search engines should be targeted and distanced their arguments from the court ruling. Likewise, those speaking against the motion acknowledged the real concerns of many people about how their data is used online.

It seems a balance has to be struck between opposing demands. An absolute right to be forgotten, allowing everyone complete control over what information about them should be published online, makes no sense. There are too many politicians who have over-claimed expenses, doctors who have been sued for malpractice, and bankers who have been convicted of fraud. If there are to be more legal powers to control what information about you is out there, then everyone accepts there have to be counter-balancing limitations in defence of freedom of speech and freedom to know.

guest blog  Mendeley Debates At Cambridge : Do We Need A ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ ?

At the same time, we all have to recognise that our society is going through a period of enormous change, whereby more data than ever is collected about our day-to-day life. We are moving too close to the point where almost every waking moment of our lives is recorded online, and can potentially be shared or made public. The volumes of data about us that are being collected and stored are truly immense and unprecedented in our history.

Given this, the truth is that our society does need to evolve new mechanisms, both technical and maybe even legal, to ensure that individuals are empowered to better manage their privacy and identity online. The challenge will be doing this in such a way that we do not introduce censorship, and an Internet plagued by legal disputes over what should or should not be online. Reflecting on the debate, it looks very much like we do need new solutions, but perhaps just not this one.

guest blog  Mendeley Debates At Cambridge : Do We Need A ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ ?

As Jan Reichelt, President and Co-founder of Mendeley, made clear in his introduction, we have a firm ethical policy to preserve data protection and privacy for our users. We also believe in the power of technology innovation to solve the very toughest problems, often powered by data that our researchers and the scientific community creates. We will continue to support the great debate about to balance these interests, so we can support both freedom of speech and the right to privacy.

Interested to contribute to the debate ? Tweet us at @Mendeley_com or @gabehughes #RTBF