28 March 2011 by William

Tip 1: Give yourself a professional face with a Mendeley Web profile.

A brief sampling of researchers who actively use Mendeley shows the amazing effect that a complete profile can have. Among researchers who have publications listed on their profile, those with a picture and educational or work experience listed have twice as many readers of their papers, their profiles are viewed 4 times as often, and they tend to have 4 times as many contacts. With this kind of impact, isn’t it worth taking 5 minutes to add or update your profile? Just click the link to your profile and select the edit tab to get started.

Tip 2: Search like a pro with search operators.

Find what you are looking for faster with better searches. Mendeley Desktop has lots of useful features tucked away in the little search box. Read on to see how to ninja-fy your searches. Use Operators! Searches look through the full text of your papers by default, but if you want to look for a specific word in the title or abstract, or in a specific journal, you can do this using operators. Author, Title, Publication, Year, and Notes are all valid operators. For multi-word phrases, use quotes. A query to find all your papers from the journal PLoS Biology would look like this: publication:"PLoS Biology". Search results are returned according to the location of the match and the frequency of the term searched for, but if you have too many results, you can drop some out using the – operator. Just put a minus sign before any query term to remove any matching results. For example, “stem cells” -mesenchymal on my library gives me a list of papers about stem cells, but not about mesenchymal stem cells. Searching on the web works a little differently, and there are some really useful options to choose from in the advanced search box, such as “Open Access Only“, MeSH terms, and more.

Tip 3: Tag and annotate your papers.

A few well-chosen keywords go a long way when it comes to finding that paper you read but can’t remember the details of. Authors often supply suggested keywords, but if you want an easy way to pull up everything you’ve read about a topic, running a quick search for tag:topic has to be one of the best. No more worrying if a paper is best filed under topic A or B, just tag it with both and move on! When papers are added to a group, tags also help people see at a glance what’s in a group (like this one) and it’s so easy to just click on a tag and browse through related topics in the group. It’s also possible to do some really cool stuff with tags using the Mendeley API, such as building topic maps based on tag co-occurrence, all linked to the research papers in one of the world’s largest open collections of research.

Tip 4: Add supplementary documents to references to keep everything together.

Down at the bottom of the details pane in Mendeley Desktop there’s a field labeled Files. Click in this field and you can attach files to the reference. These can be word processor documents, spreadsheets, presentations, Web pages, TeX files and more. It’s a great way to make sure the supplementary info stays with the paper and makes it easy to share the whole package.

Tip 5: Join groups and participate in the discussion.

Speaking of groups and sharing, using groups is one of the best ways to get more out of Mendeley. After all, nobody knows your topic better than you, so why shouldn’t you get recognized for it? In Mendeley Desktop, it’s easy to create a group, throw your collection of papers in by dragging and dropping them over, then invite your colleagues to join and discuss! If you’re looking for information outside of your specialty, groups are a great way to leverage the knowledge of the Mendeley community. With tens of thousands of public groups already created at Mendeley, chances are you can find what you’re looking for. There are groups on Earthquake and Tsunami research, the research behind popular science, social network analysis, and more. There are also some groups that are just amusing to browse.

Do you have any power tips for using Mendeley? Let us know in the comments.

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