Team Mendeley is joining Elsevier. Good things are about to happen!

Today we are excited to announce that Mendeley is joining Elsevier!


You might already have heard some rumors and speculation about this in the past few weeks. We hope you’ll understand that we couldn’t address the rumors head-on until there was some actual news to share with you. Now that the union is official, we would like to take some time to explain how it will benefit Mendeley’s and Elsevier’s users, the research community in general, as well as address some of the questions you may have.

The most important things first: very little will change for you as a Mendeley user. In fact, Mendeley is only going to get better for you. For starters, we are doubling everyone’s storage space at no cost. Your free Mendeley account now comes with 2GB, Mendeley Plus and MIE accounts get upgraded to 5GB, and Mendeley Pro accounts to 10GB. There will always be a free version of Mendeley, and our functionality will continue to improve, now even faster than before. We will focus on what has made Mendeley a success in the first place: ensuring that everything we do makes our users’ lives easier and listening closely to your needs. Your data will still be owned by you, we will continue to support standard and open data formats for import and export to ensure that data portability, and – as explained recently – we will invest heavily in our Open API, which will further evolve as a treasure trove of openly licensed research data. Our vision continues to be to make science more collaborative and open, and now we will work towards this vision with the support of the world’s largest science publisher.

Elsevier’s resources, partnerships, and reach in the academic, library, and professional community will enable us to accelerate our progress towards our vision. Our team will expand significantly over the next few years. Elsevier’s Scopus and ScienceDirect platforms will become seamlessly interoperable with Mendeley, creating a central discovery, workflow, and collaboration network for the global research community. Here’s Elsevier’s comments about what they expect from the partnership.

On a more personal note, let me also explain why we chose to team up with Elsevier at this point. Mendeley had just raised a significant round of funding from existing and new investors, with more investors wanting to join. Also, Mendeley’s revenues from our individual and team premium accounts, as well as our new Mendeley Institutional Edition, had tripled over the past year. We could have continued on our path independently, yet we felt that the opportunity to give our users access to better content, more data, and faster development was just too exciting to pass up.

Of course, we are aware that – especially in the past year – the academic community has criticized Elsevier for some of its policies and positions. Our own relationship with Elsevier has been conflicted at times. Elsevier is a multi-faceted company with over 7000 employees, so it is impossible to put them into a single box. We were being challenged by some parts of the organization over whether we intended to undermine journal publishers (which was never the case), while other parts of the organization were building successful working relationships with us and even helped to promote Mendeley.

For example, when Elsevier decided to shut down its social bookmarking service, the 2collab team collaborated with us to build a data import tool, then recommended their users to migrate to us, the upstart competitor. When we co-hosted (together with Nature Publishing Group and the British Library) the Science Online London Conference to talk about Open Science, Elsevier was one of our first sponsors. And when we launched our Open API, Elsevier was the first major publisher to embrace our data and build a Mendeley Readership App for their application platform.

Time and time again, Elsevier struck us as one of the most innovative and tech-savvy publishers out there. They have launched challenges to make research papers more interactive and useful, improve the process and incentives of peer review, and build knowledge discovery and visualization tools for the life sciences. They provide tools for exploring and unearthing connections between researchers and contribute to the ORCID author profile initiative. Like us, the Elsevier Labs team is researching semantics, taxonomies, natural language processing, data visualization, and big data analytics. Lastly, Elsevier’s applications platform mirrors our own ambition of enabling developers to create unique new research tools.

Elsevier is a large, complex organization – to say the least! While not all of its moves or business models have been universally embraced, it is also a hugely relevant, dynamic force in global publishing and research. More importantly, we have found that the individual team members – the employees, editors, innovators, and tool developers we’ve worked with – all share our genuine desire to advance science. This is why we’re thrilled to join Elsevier and help shape its future.

In sum, the overlap between Elsevier’s and our vision has always been remarkable. Combining Elsevier’s content, analytics tools, and long-standing publisher/society relationships with Mendeley’s collaboration platform and social data will enable both of us to develop amazing new services that will make your research life easier.

I know you’ll have a lot of questions, so please find some additional information here. If you’re still skeptical about whether this will be a good thing for you as a user, we hope to convince you by our actions over the next few weeks and months. Good things are about to happen!

Thank you for all of your support, and thanks especially to our incredible team of Mendeley Advisors!

Jan, Paul, Victor, and Team Mendeley

38 thoughts on “Team Mendeley is joining Elsevier. Good things are about to happen!

  1. If “Good things are about to happen!” why didn’t you tell us what they are? How can “good things” happen to me if in fact in was never the case that you intended to “undermine journal publishers”? Lots of happy talk here, but c’mon…

  2. Nope, sorry. Nowadays announcing you’re joining Elsevier is like announcing you’re joining Monsanto, Halliburton or Souza Cruz, something you whisper about in hushed tones, inform in a small footnote in page 62 hoping no one notices, and change the subject as fast as possible if someone mentions. Elsevier is anti-openness. If by miracle your Open API survives, it won’t be because, but despite Elsevier.

    I was wondering whether to go with Mendely or Zotero. I guess this settles it.

  3. I can’t help but agree with the previous comment by Mike… hope we’re wrong and best of luck. I’ll be following closely.

  4. @Mike: yep. Elsevier, rings a bell… Any statisticians/mathematicians around here?

    Bye-bye, Mendeley?

  5. Hi,

    Elsevier are an interesting chocie, and not in a nice way. They are the target of an academic boycott, and they have participated in publishing several journals which could fairly be described as questionable. Googling for ‘elsevier fake journal’ and ‘elsevier boycott’ would have been a reasonable part of your due diligence. Their journals are very expensive, and library journal budgets are only going one way – down. Describing them as ‘tech-savvy’ is. I think, optimistic. They are certainly not as bad as some of their competitors, but that’s not a very high bar.

    I wish you all the best, but I do not expect a positive outcome. I will not now be subscribing to your services, which I have been testing for a few weeks, and quite liked.

    Anthony Staines
    Chair of Health Systems

  6. Have to think about if I still want to use Mendeley under these conditions……
    I cannot see how this partnership is good for science!

  7. Sad… very sad development.
    I am glad for the team that developed Mendeley, they deserve the recognition for building a wonderful tool. But this the the death sentence for the service.
    Elsevier has no interest in cultivating an open access to science. The bought to to shut you down.

    Yesterday when I heard the news I had to look at the calendar to be sure we were not in the 1st of April. I wanted it to be a lie, a terrible joke. Sadly it is not.

    RIP mendeley, it was good while it lasted

  8. Elsevier is not good for Mendeley’s users. As a user of Mendeley for the last four years I am now switching to a different product in response to this unfortuante move.

  9. Is the censorship already starting? Where is my post and the posts previously shown here?

    I thought discussion was a 2 way system.

  10. Ha ha good one! You are 8 days late though. Good job no-one is silly enough to believe that you would sell out to academia’s most hated company!

  11. Looks like four team members have already been captured by the Empire and are being held on the death star. Save them, Obi-Wan!

  12. Sorry for the folks who had their comments caught by the spam filter. I think I’ve gotten them all.

    Ricardo – The Open API will survive as per agreement:

    Alexander, Anthony, Robert – It will be a good thing. We have more resources now, we can release new features faster, and we’re still committed to openness.

    Duarte, Dan – There’s a very detailed integration plan. They want us to be the platform for their data services, so far from shutting us down, they want us to help them succeed.

    Spencer – Glad you like it. We’ll keep fighting the Dark Side.

  13. My (negative) post mysteriously disappeared, too. I, too, am leaving Mendley; it was promising while it lasted!

  14. I watched Mendeley with interest for a while, but this move unfortunately settles the case. With Internet the traditional science publishing business became highly questionable, and if I may rate various publisher’s ethics on the scale from A to D, Elsevier gets a C. With Mendeley we are loosing an refreshing player. Hope the least that you guys got rich, and that you’ll do something sensible with the money.

  15. Hope you harness Scopus to make Mendeley suggest better. Currently, I don’t find it (mendeley suggest) very useful. Really would like Mendeley suggest to throw up suggestions for newly-published articles based on my Mendeley library (rather than widely read/cited articles from decades ago – which is what I currently get). I hope you can use the Scopus database to enable something like this.

    I have no plans to leave Mendeley in the wake of this news, but I have always been worried about lock in of my pdf comments and highlights (which are not embedded into the pdfs). Will (or does) your API provide access to pdf comments and highlighting properties (i.e. location within the pdf)? Would be reassuring to know that these could be extracted from my Mendeley database.

  16. Whoa, this is a big disappointment. Probably the worst thing that could have happened to Mendeley. Guess it’s time to look for a new reference management tool…

  17. OSM – That’s just one of the things we’re planning on doing, and the greater resources available to us will allow us to make those other changes faster.

    Asaf – I checked the spam folder and didn’t see anything from you. As you can see, we’re not filtering comments.

    We really do think this is a chance to bring Mendeley to a much broader audience much faster than we otherwise could have. This means there are going to be people who would never have heard about open access will now be exposed to it through us.

  18. Congratulations Mendeley staff. I’m sure that Mendeley will do its best because it’s invented to stay on top!

    I’ve written a post about this event in Persian, and also translated FAQ section about this news from Mendeley’s blog. This post will be helpful for Persian language users around the world.

  19. Congratulations on taking your project to scale and the opportunity to pursue your vision for Mendeley.

    However, like others, Im concerned about Elsevier’s agenda and commitment, not least the possibility of a Google Reader situation in case it doesn’t work out. Unfortunately, as I liked Mendeley, I want out.

    I would like to export my entire library of documents together with their markups so that I can continue to use them in an alternative PDF reader. Mendeley currently supports export of individual document + markup. Could you introduce whole library support?

    Thanks, and congratulations again

  20. So sad… I totally agree that Elsevier is the academia’s most hated company. Hope Mendeley spirit preserves even Elsevier…

  21. Well, I’m scared. It can go either of two ways: Mendeley will become more like Elsevier is, or Elsevier will get more like Mendeley is. We all want the second. But I’m on my way out from Mendeley. Elsevier, you better start doing something to stop me. And thousands others like me.

  22. Isn’t it a little hippocratic to complain the buy out to Elsevier? Let’s face it: Mendeley is and always was a commercial enterprise with all its pros and cons: more dedicated developers, more (owner) directed development, the need to generate some income by making some things you might want for-pay-only and/or commercialize your data (if you don’t pay you are the merchandise), no option to tweek it for your own purposes and needs if you have the tecnical programmer knowledge (oh, you have not, well…). And there always was a non-commercial alternative with more or less the same functionallity (zotero) but with a – let’s call it – less “sexy” look&feel.
    So will Elsevier expect a higher profit rate from Mendely as the investors that finance Mendely till now? Maybe, but give them a chance. It could also be, that it is enough for Elsevier to know, that now other competitor can buy Mendely and use their expertise as they will do for other Elsevier services. Let’s see what happens.

  23. William – Another specific thing I’d personally like to see re Scopus integration is usage of Scopus’s “documents that cite” feature. I often use Scopus to see what articles have cited one the one I’m currently reading. Would be great to either see that information right in Mendeley desktop or have a direct link to the Scopus page of an article I’m reading so I can cut out manual navigation to the Scopus page.

    Any chance you could address my previous question on lock in of pdf annotations?

  24. Happy to report my school’s transition to Zotero, inspired by this bass-ackwards move by Mendeley.

    A bonus for our transition is ZotPress: Zotero for WordPress! Now our students can insert citations in their blog posts and generate bibliographies auto-magically, too.

    Good riddance Mendeley, Elseveir, and your ever-increasing avarice!

  25. That’s a shame.
    I too am participating in the Elsevier boycott. Guess it’s time to close my Mendeley account too then.
    Mendeley looked promising (apart from some bibtex integration issues), but this totally changes things.
    I’ve been using CiteULike for a while now and I will continue using it as my sole reference manager.

  26. I’ve been using Mendeley, just a little, but now I’ll stop.

    One reason is that Elsevier is driving libraries broke worldwide. It’s got a lot of monopoly power: it’s the largest publisher of scholarly journals in the world – it publishes almost 2000 titles; its next largest competitor, Taylor & Francis (T&F) publishes about 1000. It forces libraries to buy its journals in a huge ‘bundle’, making it impossible for them to cut costs by dropping subscriptions to journals they don’t like. As a result, my university’s library – to name just one example – has been reduced to buying fewer books and fewer journals from less expensive publishers, just to keep getting the Elsevier journals.

    Elsevier likes to talk about how it adds value to its publications. But UC economist Ted Bergstrom has concluded that 59% of Elsevier titles are a “bad value.”

    Another thing I don’t like is Elsevier’s basic business model: getting smart people to write papers for free, then selling them back to the same people at high prices.

    I have to admit it’s working well for Elsevier: it made $1.1 billion in profit in 2010, for a profit margin of 36%. But I’ll shun any company owned by them.

  27. Bad news indeed, for the users/general public, but even more so — a huge disappointment for those who held Mendeley creators in respect. Market pressures, a challenging financial situation or other reasons may force a company / organization to sell itself / its product. But does it mean Mendeley had to make a deal with the devil? Really? Elsevier, of all options? Are you proud, guys @Mendeley?

  28. This is sad news. Even on purely technical grounds it seems a poor
    decision to tie a tool based on social networking of scholars to a
    publisher who is currently being boycotted by over 13,000 scholars.
    This is a good occasion for mendeley users to learn about the
    boycott and the reasons put forth for it, and to consider joining:

    Click to access rtx120600828p.pdf

    Since a lot of us will dropping our mendeley accounts, it
    would be great if knowledgeable users could report on ways
    to migrate a mendeley database to another system, unconnected to
    Elsevier, and to let us know of any pitfalls to watch for.

  29. I’ll still keep using it for now, it’s a fantastic tool. But I am worried that Mendeley will now become the online tool just for Elsevier publications. What about others? What about uploading pdfs of my own or other open papers as a resource? Anything that increases the number of clicks and registrations I need to access the papers I need to do my work will be a hinderance. We’ll see what happens but I do feel like you are on the wrong side of history here and you won’t be able to take your fantastic tool out into the open if the tide falls against the current centralized approach.

    Frankly, all peer reviewed science really needs are three tools: something like Google Groups, something like Arvix and something like Mendeley. Something like Elsevier was useful for a time but is no longer required.

    Good luck.

  30. When I read the announcement, I immediately deleted my Mendeley account. It is a shame to lose all that stuff, but the alternative is unacceptable. Elsevier must change its business model to one that supports authors and readers of the scientific literature, or else it must become non-essential to the scientific world. I am one of many scientists who are working towards the latter until the former happens.

  31. Like other commenters, I am dumbstruck by this announcement. As a self-employed person, I have hundreds of hours of my own time invested in my beloved Mendeley library, which woud be much better and more valuable to my work if Elsevier wasn’t so hostile in their policies.

    I agree with the comparison to Monsanto, this can’t be good for me and other people who have invested our time in using Mendeley.

    You’ve always been great, I just don’t understand how this move can be good for Mendeley or your customers. We put a lot of faith in you. I thought I was building a library for life.

  32. OSM – As I said, yes, we’re adding annotations to the API, so there will be no lock-in in that regard. We also hope to see things changing for the better re: Elsevier’s past behavior and the indications are that it will.

  33. According to the Privacy Policy of Mendeley “Whatever personal data and original content you upload to your Mendeley account is owned by you. We do not claim any ownership rights over your research. Of course, you can delete your data at any time. ” and then continues “In certain cases, we anonymously aggregate this data on an institutional level or other relevant segmenting and make that information available to the Mendeley community. ”
    Hence I can request Mendeley to delete ALL my data including the portions that have been aggregated, Am I right?

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