A tale of two researchers. How we're adapting Mendeley to meet your needs.

One of the most interesting things about creating software that’s used by millions of people is seeing how the ways people use your software agree with what you expected and also the unexpected ways that people use it. One somewhat unexpected thing we’ve realized is that there are (at least!) two distinct modes of use of Mendeley.

Image via ricephotos

Meet Jane. Jane uses Mendeley as a cloud research storage application. Jane is a graduate student who works mostly on her own and has created and participated in a few public groups. She uses groups mostly for the purpose of discovery of new and interesting research, but also to share what she’s found with others in her field, so public groups are best for her. She keeps her papers in Mendeley so that she can access them easily from wherever she is, on her Desktop PC or Linux machine at work, or her Mac laptop at home, which allows her to work on her manuscripts wherever she is. She sees Mendeley as an application which stores her reading history for easy retrieval and she appreciates the Mendeley Suggests feature to help her discover new research. Jane is a real research hound, needing to store over a thousand papers, and appreciates being able to buy extra storage. Most Mendeley users are like Jane, with or without the need for extra storage.

Image via Skeggy

Meet Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith is a researcher who uses Mendeley primarily to develop and host a literature collection as part of an established group. Dr. Smith is the head of a large lab at a public institution and employs numerous technical staff in his large group. The task Dr. Smith faces is to curate and maintain collections of research specific to projects his team is working on at the moment. He switched to Mendeley from another solution involving a networked drive on a file server and appreciates how Mendeley takes the work out of maintaining a centralized store of papers. He uses private groups primarily and really appreciates the collaborative PDF annotation feature of Mendeley. Over time, some of his research collections have grown, but since his team is more interested in focused, well-curated collections, his team’s overall group sizes tend to be a bit smaller than Jane’s. Dr. Smith is also interested in things like centralized billing (available for Teams), premium support options and custom server installations (neither of which are currently available, but we’re thinking about it). People like Dr. Smith represent the second most common mode of use of Mendeley.

Looking at these two types, which together represent the majority of Mendeley usage, we realized that we had a bit of a problem, because we were squeezing both types of users into one ill-fitting premium account box. The solo research hounds were having to pay for all these private groups that they didn’t want, and in order to get more private groups, the research teams were having to buy extra storage they didn’t need. To better meet the needs of our researchers, we’ve changed how we price upgrades so research hounds can buy more space independently of groups, and we’ve established a Mendeley for Teams product line, with centralized billing and pay-per-user pricing. Mendeley for Teams is designed along the lines of Dropbox for Teams ($11-$13 per seat per month) or Github (Personal $7-$50/month or Enterprise $20/seat/month). Are you more like research type #1 or #2, or do you have another distinct research style? Let us know in the comments!

To read more about the new plans, see the FAQ or to upgrade, see the upgrade page. Below are some more detailed answers to recently asked questions.


Nice story, but this is really just a price hike, right?

Our goal is to design a plan that suits everyone perfectly, such that the number of requests we get along the lines of “Could I get plan X, but with Y private groups, or Z space?” dwindles to nothing. We will continue to monitor the feedback we get, both explictly and implictly via usage patterns. Usage patterns tell us what people will do, given the opportunity, but can only hint at what people want to do. The purpose of this post, then, is to elicit as much explicit feedback as we can get, because without that, getting the right products created is just trial-and-error. So please let us know what you think. If you like the old plans, don’t worry! Everyone who was subscribed to one of the old plans will be able to continue on that plan indefinitely. We recognize that some teams were using the old premium plans with one upgraded account sharing to many free accounts, and now having to pay for each user will seem like a price hike, but hope that the great features coming for Teams will convince you it’s worth it, and we are grateful for your early support of us. We couldn’t have come as far as we did without you and we hope you stick around for years to come.


“If we get the $99/mo plan for 15 collaborators, does this mean that we can include 50 collaborators in the package as long as we only allow 15 collaborators in each private group?”

The way this is presented on the Teams page can be confusing. Teams plans can be created for up to 50 users right now. You can create as many groups as you like, but membership in each private group is limited to the number of seats you have purchased. So if you have a Teams plan for 15 people, you can create as many private groups as you like, and each one can have all 15 people in them. There’s currently no easy way for two different teams to collaborate between teams and share group memberships. To mingle research teams, both teams would need to be covered by the same Teams package. This is something we’re working on.


“I don’t want to upgrade. I like my existing premium plan just as it is.”

Thanks for your support of us as an early premium subscriber. You may remain on your current plan indefinitely. If you need to make changes, you may change to one of our new plans, but not to a different old plan.

Images are just for illustration.

6 thoughts on “A tale of two researchers. How we're adapting Mendeley to meet your needs.

  1. I actually fit into both categories as I am a PhD student doing independent research and also am working as part of an engineering team in a major corporation. Mendelely fills both really well. I must put in a formal request for “custom server installations” which would place the private teaming capabilities more in line with corporate enterprise use.

  2. I’m a doctoral researcher and use Mendeley primarily as a Reference Manager, and am really glad this use case won’t be impacted by the new fees structure.

    I’ve tried to encourage my group to use a private group for sharing papers, but workflows and inertia are the main stumbling blocks. I know for a fact our PI would happily pay if everyone used the service.

    On the future of Mendeley, the reference manager component is so powerful and saves me so much time I would happily use an ad-supported version. Ads in the collections window, but not when reading papers.

  3. Nice analysis. It seems I fit the first bill quite well, as a grad student with an extensive collection of papers. I do pay for extra storage space, but more to support what I consider a very useful product than for actual usage, since I use a home-made solution to sync Mendeley’s database and pdf-files across my computers.
    Although my sync-solution is currently working fine, it would be nice if Mendeley supported syncing via custom servers. Better BibTeX integration would also be nice. Well-done so far, Mendeley!

  4. A third use case would be enterprises, which need to ensure there is no option for anything leaving the company – i.e. the mendeley cloud option is ruled out. Anything needing tight control of IP-related resources precludes use of Mendeley. Unfortunately!! The Desktop part is fine – the idea to synchronize libraries and use group functionality – all very welcome and useful – but not if synchronization is via the Mendeley cloud.

  5. I’m defenitly a Jane and I would agree with chepec: A better BibTeX integration and custom servers would be ver nice to have. Also I would like to see dynamic folders displaying documents that fit an array of criteria (e.g. unread documents with tags x, y, & z).

  6. I’m currently like #1 but trying to work out a way to run something more like #2. The problem for me is I really don’t know what upgrading would actually do for me, and I can’t see any way to find out without committing our funds, which aren’t mine to grant. That is to say, if I persuade our research leader to fork out for Mendeley for Teams, and it doesn’t do what I want it to do, I’m going to look pretty daft. Any thoughts?

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