This week’s update could be the start of something big. At Mendeley, we know that as you read, annotate, share, and organize research documents, your knowledge and expertise is encoded in your collection. Decisions such as what groups a paper belongs in, what tags are meaningful for a paper, and whether or not you’ve read the paper through to the end are all important signals about how important a given paper is and how it’s related to others. Our mission at Mendeley is to help you leverage this latent information to more effectively organize, share, and discover research. Today, we’ve taken an important step in this process by using tags to group related documents and groups together, and we’ve also added a wiki-like page for each tag to describe the concept the tag represents and to link to related concepts. Intrigued?
How it works
On this page there’s a place for a description of the topic the tag refers to and there’s also a listing of groups, papers and other tags related to that tag. This seems simple enough, but it enables some great new functionality. In a tag summary you can link, wiki-style, from one topic to the next and or to authors related to that topic. What this provides is a very effective means of browsing by topic, instead of searching, to quickly find the most relevant papers and groups.
Teaching the Mendeley knowledge engine about research
I’ve often written about the personal benefits of using tags to organize your research. They grow with your collection(unlike folders), you can easily take your organization scheme with you to other programs, and they’re also just more expressive. In addition to the personal benefits of using tags, there are also collective benefits. Because any given document may have multiple tags and any given tag may be applied to multiple documents, how documents are tagged serves as a signal as to what papers are related and also what tags are related. We can then use this signal to help you find the most relevant papers fast. If you’re interested in cancer, you can ask Mendeley, “What are some concepts related to cancer?” and get an answer back: breast, colon, thyroid, skin, … You can then explore those tags, which are chosen because they occur most frequently in the set of papers also tagged “cancer”. This is all powered by the collective wisdom of everyone tagging documents on Mendeley and it’s a perfect example of how crowdsourcing is supposed to work.
“What’s in it for me?”
The biggest thing is easier discovery of more relevant research. You also have the opportunity to help define your topic area of interest using the tag wiki fields. Here you can share your knowledge of the history of the field, why it’s important, and let others know what newcomers to the field always tend to get wrong. This is a great place to explain those little idiosyncracies and historical accidents that always confuse people, like why “mesenchymal stem cell” is the wrong name, but most people use it anyways, or why a technique is named after someone who didn’t invent it. Check out your favorite tag and add your expertise today. If you don’t see your tag on the page, you can get to any tag by simply adding /tags/name+of+tag to the end of the mendeley.com URL.
Additional changes for this week’s update include under-the-hood fixes to the open API and groups. Also, grab the new iOS app if you haven’t already.