Mendeley Desktop Syncs Mapped Globally

Mendeley Desktop Map

Here at Mendeley we have a hack day every month where our developers (and even the non-techy folk) try to come up with cool and/or useful projects. On one of those days, Carles Pina from our Desktop team thought it would be interesting to play around with the Google Maps API to visualize Mendeley activity around the globe. He took Mendeley Desktop sync apache logs, mapped the IP addresses to each geolocation using python-geoip, and then fed this into the Google Maps API to generate each keyframe.

As you play through the video – which covers about 2.5 days of Mendeley activity – each glowing dot represents a sync event, which then gently fades out over a few frames. The darker shade that moves across the screen shows the time between sunset and sunrise, and you might notice that the activity decreases at night, but that in places like the US East Coast – perhaps unsurprisingly – there are plenty of people burning the midnight oil. It seems that researchers in New York don’t really believe in sleep. Steve Dennis worked on making this beautiful video, with relaxing music provided by The Disconnect , and we wanted to share it with you. It is, after all, a video starring our users and showing how Mendeley is being used by researchers around the world, and around the clock.

We hope you like it, let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions!

Team Mendeley Races for Life!

Race for Life Mendeley

 

Last Saturday the 22nd June, instead of relaxing in bed like the rest of us, the women from the Mendeley (and Elsevier) team got themselves over to Finsbury Park in London to take part in a charity run for Cancer Research UK.

The weather was not great, but Zuzana, Carole, Rosario, Elena, Charlotte, Veronica and Jessica bravely ran or walked the 5k, with Zuzana and Rosario finishing in under 30 minutes!

Some of the guys from the Mendeley team also showed up to cheer them on, and the rest of the team supported the effort with fundraising initiatives such as baking tasty caffeinated brownies (Andi’s specialty!) which raised a whopping £95. The total raised including gift-aid topped £1000 so we hope that helps to make a difference for this worthy cause!

 

 

Want to get real user feedback? Let them in.

Research-Hub

We all know that user testing and feedback is essential in building intuitive, customer-centric products, and in fulfilling the wants and needs that those users might not realise they had until they come across a solution (hopefully yours). But getting direct input has traditionally been far from straightforward, and often prohibitively expensive for small enterprises.

Whichever way you do it, the Holy Grail is to build a communication channel with your users where they can give you feedback in the most frictionless way possible. Ideally, they should feel like you’re a friend they can chat to over a cup of coffee. So, why not take that idea literally? Instead of escorting someone to their usability testing workstation or putting them with strangers in a focus group, why not invite them into the office and just let them mingle?

Letting your customers see what you do is hardly a new trend. As journalist Lambeth Hochwald wrote, you only need to look at the way bakers have for years created a space for showing off frosting prowess (to which I would add the more recent trend towards open kitchens in restaurants) in order to see how this transparency is appealing to consumers – whatever the product.

People want to feel that they can build a relationship with a product, and this is particularly true when it comes to technology, where that relationship with an app or platform involves long-term interaction, the surrender of personal data, and often – as is the case with Facebook, LinkedIn and our own research collaboration platform Mendeley – the projection of your own personal and professional profile through that product.

The trick is to approach each user as you would an investor, because they are, after all, going to invest time, energy, and a surprising amount of emotion into using your product, and these are precious, monetizable commodities these days. This is why it’s crucial to pitch them the whole package, since getting to know who’s behind the product is getting you a step closer to them trusting the idea.

That’s the concept behind the Research Hub we created in Mendeley’s London office. In and of itself it’s nothing fancy; a collection of 6 desks in a nice airy space, decorated with some pot plants and posters of famous scientists. There is free Wi-Fi and our guests are welcome to help themselves to drinks and snacks in the kitchen or join a game of foosball, chess or Jenga at lunchtime. People use an online system similar to those used to reserve tables at restaurants to book in a time slot at one of the desks, each named after a famous scientist like Einstein, Newton or Marie Curie.

The researchers who pop in can be from out of town or even abroad, and some are local to London and just tired of wrestling with undergraduate students for library desk space. In return for using the facilities we might ask them to give us some feedback and actually test some new features here and there for half an hour at a time, but feedback can also happen around the proverbial water cooler (in our case the coffee machine). This gives them a chance to have direct input in a very natural way, and constantly reminds the team of the real people that use the product every day.

Some companies still have a culture where they hold on tightly to their secrets and are afraid of outsiders taking a peek behind the curtains, but in the world of tech where open APIs and lightning-fast iterations rule, what you can get back from real-time feedback – combined with the goodwill that openness engenders – far outweighs those risks. If you expect your users to love and share your product, then you have to be prepared to show your love and share everything with them too.

Would you like to visit the Mendeley Research Hub? We’d love to see you there, just click here to book!

Wish PeerJ Charlie a Happy Birthday!

Our friends at PeerJ published their first articles on the birthday of Charles Darwin (Feb 12th) and today PeerJ has their first anniversary, so let’s wish Charlie a happy birthday. Exactly one year ago, we helped announce their launch with an interview of the co-founders Jason Hoyt and Peter Binfield.

Since that time, the demand for access to research has continued to grow, Mendeley and Frontiers have been acquired, the US and UK have mandated open access, and the volume of articles that are published in an openly accessible format has increased dramatically. PeerJ has contributed to this change by allowing authors to publish open access for $99 per author, just a fraction of the fees that similar open access publishers charge (in fact, cheaper than the page charges at many non-open access journals!), and also by opening PeerJ PrePrints and helping illuminate the hidden effort expended by editors and reviewers through their Academic Contribution metric.

PeerJ is raising the bar for what an academic publication should be (a bar already set fairly high by Elsevier’s Article of the Future), and we wish our colleagues at PeerJ many more successful years!

Mendeley Investor Sponsors Annual Science Academy Prizes

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Image: http://www.nyas.org

Leonard Blavatnik – the Ukrainian-born billionaire from Access Industries who was one of the biggest investors in Mendeley before the acquisition by Elsevier in April – is continuing the trend of investing in research by backing the New York Academy of Sciences’ annual prizes for young scientists.

Tamar Lewin reported in a recent New York Times article that the scheme is building on the success of a smaller program that was piloted in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut over the past seven years. It will now award three prizes of $250,000 each in the areas of Physical Sciences & Engineering, Chemistry and Life Sciences.

It might not seem such a large amount when compared with the Nobel prize (which is currently around $1 million) or the whopping $3 Million that each winner of the newly established Breakthrough Prizes received, yet these awards are targeted towards younger up-and-coming researchers (there is an age limit of 42) rather than those that are already leaders in their field.

The idea, according to Blavatnik is to make the prizes big enough to be interesting but not so large as to be scary. While there are many rewards and incentives for established and prominent scientists, there are fewer initiatives to encourage and support young researchers in a sustained and more systematic way. The aim is to use this incentive to help spur the next generation of scientific innovators. Mr Blavatnik is a philanthropist with a keen interest in scientific research, having funded  the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford to the tune of $114 million and also recently donating $50 million to Harvard and $10 million to Yale.

Past finalists and winners of the regional Blavatnik Awards talk about how they were pivotal for their careers: Elisa Oricchio, a Research Fellow of the Cancer Biology & Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center says that the prize is a wonderful stimulus and confidence booster for young scientists and “identifies emerging scientific thought leaders and highlights their work to the broader scientific community.”

Nominations for the prize will come from around 300 leading medical centres and research universities and an advisory council of past winners, Nobel laureates and prominent scientists. The judging panel – made up of 60 distinguished scientists – will then select winners based on the impact, quality and novelty of their research. The first nominations will be accepted from September through December 2013, with winners being announced in September 2014.

“The long-term goal of the awards is to create a pipeline of scientific support in which established scientists choose the most outstanding young faculty-rank scientists, who then go on to mentor the next generation of would-be scientists and award winners,” said the president of the New York Academy of Sciences Ellis Rubinstein.

Do you think these prizes make a real difference towards advancing science and supporting researchers and their work? Mendeley and Elsevier are also looking at some interesting initiatives and awards to support early career researchers, so watch this space, and in the meantime let us know what you think!

 

Researchers can stay up-to-date between jobs with free access to ScienceDirect

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These are tough times for everybody and researchers are no exception. In the UK, for example, a recent report by Vitae suggests that although those with a doctoral qualification are more “recession proof,” they are increasingly being employed on shorter, fixed-term contracts. The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) also found that Australian scientists are finding it difficult to find jobs in their fields of expertise after graduating, and those that do find work struggle to transition from short-term positions into permanent careers.

The difficulty is compounded by the fact that researchers have to constantly dedicate large chunks of their time to putting together grant applications, which jeopardises their ability to publish and therefore their chances of being awarded those grants.

In between projects, researchers can also find themselves denied access to published research, which is usually dependent on being employed within an institution. This could prove disastrous to their careers, as it can effectively stop their research in its tracks and make securing a job even more challenging.

This is why Elsevier is extending the Postdoc Free Access Program they piloted last year, which granted complimentary access to books and journals on ScienceDirect to 64 unemployed researchers. After taking on board feedback from researchers, Elsevier decided to expand and relax the inclusion criteria, meaning many more people will be able to benefit this time around.

If you completed your PhD within the past 5 years and don’t currently hold a research position, you have until August 31st, 2013 to apply for a Free Access Passport. You’ll need to fill in a form to verify your credentials, and you must have completed your last research position (either your PhD research or a postdoc or equivalent) on or after 31 December 2012 or have a position that will be completed before 31st August 2013. Applicants should submit a scanned image of a letter from their last academic mentor or advisor that states the position held and the date on which the position ended or will end. Once approved, you will receive a personal code granting free access to over 2,500 peer-reviewed journals and 11,000 books on ScienceDirect for up to 6 months. For more on the program and an application, visit elsevier.com/postdocfreeaccess

Read the full article on Elsevier Connect for more details on how to access the program and stories of researchers who’ve participated so far. We’d also like to hear your thoughts and suggestions on whether you think this type of initiative is helpful.

Mendeley Open Day 2013

Mendeley Cup

Here at Mendeley we’re always keen to talk to our community, get to know our users, and listen to their feedback so we can help make researcher’s lives easier. With that in mind we thought it would be great to open the doors of our London HQ to as many of you as we could comfortably and safely fit in for a day of activities and workshops, and (why not?) fun.

Apart from some top-secret entertainment involving Lego, post-it notes and maybe even some dressing up, there will be sneak previews and testing of new features, open forums with the Mendeley and Elsevier teams, and a chance to meet some of the 3rd party developers of apps like PLASMID.IO and Labfolder, who have used the Mendeley Open API to build some very cool tools for researchers.

We also know that many of you had some questions following Mendeley’s acquisition by Elsevier in April, so this is an opportunity to get to know some of the key people at Elsevier who are collaborating with us now, and to ask them those questions directly.

Unfortunately, our office is not that big, so we can only invite a few people. However, we do want to include everyone who wants to take part, and luckily we can do that through the magic of Social Media.

Our community and product teams will join the founders in talking about what the future looks like for Mendeley, but also, most importantly, to listen to you and answer your questions. So please don’t be shy and reach out via our Facebook page or Tweet using the hashtag #Mendeley on Tuesday the 12th June. You can ask questions and comment throughout the day, but there will also be an opportunity have a chat on Twitter with Mendeley’s Head of Community Outreach William Gunn (@mrgunn) and Director of Universal Access at Elsevier Alicia Wise (@wisealic).

If you are in London and would like to attend the event in person please register your interest here. If we can’t invite you this time around, we’ll definitely keep you in mind for future events!

So please put the date in your diary: Wednesday June 12th, from

11:30 – 17:30 London time

04:30 – 10:30 US West Coast

 Even if you can’t participate on the day, please post your questions and suggestions on the comments section below, Facebook, Twitter (#Mendeley), or email the community team. This is all about you so we’d love to hear your thoughts. There will also be a video showing you what we got up to on our YouTube channel and a roundup of the day’s highlights on this blog.

You can also read about the event on the Elsevier Connect website.

See you there!

The Mendeley Team