Welcome! Many people have asked us: “Why can’t we see something on your website yet?” This is our blog, for a start. So who are we? Jan, Victor and Paul, two Ph.D. students and a Computer Science grad working in London. While we always loved doing research, we were constantly wondering why managing and sharing literature would have to be such a hassle. Discovering new papers, topics and people in your research field and keeping track of them could also be easier.
So that’s what we set out to do. Our free software automates literature management and sharing, so you can focus more on your research. You can also get recommendations about papers and researchers that may interest you, discover which topics are up and coming in your field, and see how the readership of your own publications is evolving.
All of this will be available to you when we launch our beta version in April 2008, and we will add new features based on your wishes and feedback. We’re looking forward to building something amazing for the academic community together with you.
First, our software client will allow you to automatically extract metadata – the authors, title, journal, volume, issue, even the citations at the end – from the collection of scholarly articles stored on your computer. This means that you don’t have to manually type up a database containing your references anymore. Obviously you can still do that, and our extraction algorithms are far from being perfect – they will be improved continuously – but at least Mendeley gives you a hand (besides, standard importing functionality from EndNote, RIS files, or BibTex is available as well). You can support us here: Once the metadata extracted from a specific paper has been corrected by you, all other users will be able to retrieve the corrected metadata from a central database. It’s a network effect: The more people help, the more people will be able to benefit from Mendeley. For now, the automatic extraction only works on text PDFs, but very soon we will be integrating OCR (image-to-text conversion) to support image PDFs as well.
Second, Mendeley allows easy literature and knowledge management – as easy as managing mp3s in iTunes (we also want to make your work more fun, you see). You can set up document lists, export the references in different citation styles, tag and annotate articles, filter according to keywords, authors, titles, publications,… and you can do a full-text search across it! So it’s already a fully functioning literature manager. And very soon you can share and synchronize your library with colleagues and co-authors, if you want.
Third, in addition to regular search, Mendeley can visualize search results – outgoing and incoming citations to articles are displayed in a 3D-like visualization. This feature is still in an experimental state, but we think this might be very helpful when you’re new to a field of research and are trying to get an overview of how papers and topics relate to each other (and we’ll provide an API so you can come up with your own visualizations). As with every other feature, we’d love to hear your suggestions on how to improve it and make it more useful to the research community.
And these are just a few of the things we have in mind! We’ll regularly update this blog with more information, so check back if you like or sign up with your e-mail on the right.