Is the time right for a preprint server for life science?

On the other hand, physicists like to say physics is to math as sex is to masturbation.Academics in physics, economics, or math often think that life scientists (like myself) are weird because life science doesn’t have a preprint server. Life science is a fast-paced discipline, but there’s no place where the latest research can be found, discussed, and where the primacy of results can be established. There’s a lot of value in life science research (the reproducible subset, that is) but instead of staking your claim to a finding shortly after you get the data, many researchers feel like they have to write a polished paper, submit it to a prestigious journal, and wait nerve-wracking months to years for the process of review, rejection, resubmission to finally make their results available to a subset of others in their field.As submission-to-publication times grow, fears of someone else getting there first grow and there are often accusations of “anonymous” reviewers asking for more experiments, just to delay the publication of a paper from a competing lab. What can be done about this? Read More »

Mendeley Class of 2013

Photo courtesy of Kenn W. Kiser
Photo courtesy of Kenn W. Kiser

A little while back we sent out a survey to a few of our users asking for their stories about how Mendeley had helped them in their research, and we got quite a few responses from our community. What we also found out is that now that we’ve been around for a while – actually, we launched our first beta on the 2nd April 2008, which makes Mendeley 5 years old – there are researchers out there who have used Mendeley all the way through the process of researching their PhD thesis, and many continue to use it now they’ve graduated. We’ve picked our top 10 respondents, who have all been with us for over 3 years, to share some of their favourite things about Mendeley. We’d love to see if you agree, or if you have any stories of your own you’d like to share… Usually we don’t like to toot our own horn, but hopefully since it’s our birthday you’ll forgive us!

  1. “Mendeley has enabled my different collaborations to share papers and ideas, and it has enabled me to use Latex in a more efficient way. Keeping tabs on the references and results of experimental data in organic photovoltaics has been made simpler through the use of Shared Libraries and the annotations one can make in the papers.” Roberto Olivares-Amaya, Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Theoretical Chemistry from Princeton University, NJ.
  2. “I use Mendeley collaboratively: We hold reading groups where everyone annotates the pdf with questions / comments on the paper coming up. During the meeting, we put Mendeley on the big screen and go through the papers / presentations bit by bit. The literature survey I had to do for one of my checkpoints was also greatly helped by Mendeley. I had an entire framework of tags that would allow me to quickly find the papers for a particular technique, the papers for a particular chapter, or even the papers that followed a similar methodology. Every paper was annotated with the key points that I had to summarize, and it made writing the survey far easier in the end. It is turning out to be pretty much the same story with my dissertation, which I’m just getting underway now.” Christian Muise, Computer and Information Science PhD Student from the University of Toronto, specializing in Artificial Intelligence.
  3. “My PhD was interdisciplinary – half computational systems biology, half experimental parasitology – so I had twice the background reading to do. Mendeley helped me organise that reading and see links across the subjects.” Thomas Forth, recently completed his PhD in Systems Biology of the Malaria parasite at Leeds University.
  4. “Scientists have been waiting a long time for this.  Mendeley is great, I can sync my papers across all of the different computers in our lab. When we are writing papers, everyone can have the same list of references and can actually see the same pdf files that I’m using.” Daniel Hickstein, a Physics Graduate Student specialising in Ultrafast laser spectroscopy at the university of Colorado.
  5. “Mendeley has been useful throughout my whole PhD experience. Being able to highlight, put notes for when I read it again, and send that edited version to a colleague has been an excellent collaborative tool.” Alejandro Montenegro-Montero, a Biologist specializing in Molecular Science from P. Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago.
  6. “Mendeley made it much easier to share articles with other members of my project over the years. Every time a new student joined our group, I could simply share the collection with them and point out which articles are the most important to read simply by starring them.” Joshua Middaugh, a Graduate Engineering Student at MIT specializing in Combustion and Energy.
  7. “With Mendeley I can store, organize the documents and share them with others.  And this was a free software from the beginning. I find it useful that I can read and tag my documents and make a reference list for my publications.  I can find relevant articles fast using my tags. Mendeley is always useful when I need to find specific articles quickly or articles on specific topic for an example when discussing a subject with someone.” Joose Kreutzer, Engineering Researcher specializing in Microfabrication and microfluidics at the Tampere University of Technology, Finland.
  8. “Mendeley works on Linux! Allows you to keep your notes attached to your pdf files and search through everything easily. There are other citing applications for Linux but they are antiquated and made the process of looking after my references more work than I had time for. Mendeley made organising my thesis references the enjoyable part.” Andrew Dunk, a Researcher in Computer and Information Science specializing in Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces from The University of Reading.
  9. “Probably the most valuable thing Mendeley has offered me is the way to easily include original sources rather than just subsidiary results—i.e., it’s trivially easy to keep track of that 1939 Vollmer book rather than citing something that references it.  So I feel like that process makes it easier for the end user of my research to see the real provenance of ideas rather than the temptation to cite recent sources.” Neal Davis, Nuclear Engineering graduate student from the University of Illinois.
  10. “The problem I have is that I read a lot of papers but when I need to recall them I cannot always remember the title or even the author. There are either phrases or other things that stick in my mind. With Mendeley I can always search these terms and retrieve the document.” Nikolaos Vasiloglou, Electrical and Electronic Engineering data scientist specializing in Machine Learning from Georgia Tech.