Managing your research the modern way: Research together with colleagues using an activity feed

This post is the third post in a series of posts designed to introduce you to the new information organization, discovery, and retrieval concepts in Mendeley. In part 1 we discussed tags and filters and in part 2 we discussed the idea of search as an interface to your research. Today I’d like to talk a little about another feature that has become common to information organization and discovery tools – the activity feed.

The benefits of online research are obvious: no shuffling down to the library to get lost among the dusty stacks, no piles of grainy photocopies all over your desk, no pants required. Have you ever wondered, though, if you’re missing out on some of the serendipity of discovery by sticking to narrowly focused keyword searches? It doesn’t have to be that way. Let me introduce you to activity feeds.

Activity feeds and groups are a great way to add some of that serendipity and social interaction back to online research. If there’s a scientist you admire or colleagues that you would like to keep in touch with, add them as contacts and you can see what they’re reading and thinking in your activity feed.

For readers, it’s a great way to find new and interesting papers that may have been published in a journal that’s not on your regular reading list. For authors, you can see who’s reading your works, and even better, what they’re saying about it.

Here’s how the activity feed has helped me. When I was researching how to cite datasets, as opposed to published papers, I joined a colleague’s group on data sharing. Later I was trying to figure out what the rules are for reuse of datasets published under various licenses, and as I was looking, Heather posted a paper on exactly that to her group!

If you’re eager to get started, here’s how to do it:

  1. Invite your friends and colleagues to Mendeley if they’re not already here.
  2. Add them as contacts on Mendeley Web by clicking the button on their profile.
  3. Add to Contacts

  4. Find interesting groups they’ve created and contacts they’ve made and add them.
  5. public groups the researcher is following

  6. Visit your activity feed by clicking the updates tab on your Mendeley Web profile, or by checking the overview pane for a group in Mendeley Desktop.
  7. Group Overview in Mendeley Desktop

  8. Enjoy the serendipity and let us know what you think in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Managing your research the modern way: Research together with colleagues using an activity feed

  1. The idea is great but current implementation defeats the purpose (before Mendeley 0.9.6 it wasn’t so):
    1. public groups are now disassociated from the respective local folders, so one needs to sort papers to two groups at once to make them public (since there is no sync anymore).
    2. Probably one wouldn’t care treating the group in a same way as a local folder but there are 2 possible complications:
    a) papers in a public group are forced to be uploaded to the server (is it still so?) (which I personally don’t like. At least this pushes you much faster to the limits of your account and thus to stopping to care to update the group)
    b) allowing others to contribute to the group can potentially lead to papers less relevant to you in it, so one would hesitate abandoning a corresponding local folder and switching entirely to a public group.

  2. With regard to your points one and two, the intended behavior is that you’ll put documents you want to keep local in a local folder, and only put documents you want to make a public web group of in the public group. If you’d like a paper to not be uploaded, just keep it in your local folder.

    Allowing people to contribute to a public group could indeed lead to less relevancy, which is why we have the invite only groups. We’re hoping that this provides everyone enough flexibility to share and collaborate in the way that works best for them.

  3. It would be nice to be able to have line-breaks in the comments in the group activity feed. I and a colleague were using the feed of a private group to have a discussion public to the rest of the group. One of his questions was about a paper I had read. I wanted to write a response with two paragraphs, but newlines were elided. White-space is good for readability.

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