Meet the SysAdmin Team!

Considering that Mendeley is a software taking full advantage of the internet and cloud storage, it is impossible to underscore the importance of the SysAdmin — short for System Administration — team at Mendeley. The team is responsible for ensuring our computer systems, databases, and networks are working reliably and efficiently.

But they are far from being a “have you tried turning it off and on again” I.T. response team — the SysAdmin team is constantly working on developing and maximizing our systems, working closely with engineers and API developers, and ensuring the integrity of our data and systems.

However, it also behooves me to write nice things about them, as they are also responsible for making sure each employee at Mendeley has the correct computing tools needed to do their job — and can’t you see me with a brand-new tablet? :-p

Robin Stephenson

Vice President of Engineering

RobinBack in Elsevier after many years with intermediate experience in a variety of roles, including various other publishers, banking and transport information. Started as a Perl developer on Sun workstations; now more interested in operating Scala running in Hadoop on AWS.

1. How do you describe your role/what you do on the SysAdmin Team?
Maintain longer-term goals of the engineering team; making it work, and helping them work. Immanentising the eschaton by adopting good ideas and expunging terrible ones.

2. What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?

An informal atmosphere, and the ability to take decisions.

3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Cycling, learning, spending time with my family.


Kubilay Tsil Kara

Database Administrator

KubilayKubilay studied in University of Westminster, earning a Masters of Science in Database Systems, with experience in database design, data modelling and data integration between systems and applications.

1. How do you describe your role/what you do on the Syadmin Team?
Responsible for the day to day database administration, database performance tuning and data integration activities in the company.

2. What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?
I like working in Mendeley because it uses cutting edge technology and platforms to provide its services, always trying new things and exploring methods to do things better. People working in Mendeley are very knowledgeable and innovative and there is always opportunity and time to try new things.

3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Travelling, Cars, Fishing, ​Cinema and Chess


James Rasell

Systems Administrator

James RassellJames graduated in 2005 from Kingston University with a BSc Hons in Earth and Planetary Science and worked within the oil and hosting industries before moving to Mendeley 18 months ago.

1. How do you describe your role/what you do on the SysAdmin Team?

As a sysadmin my tasks vary from fixing printers to managing, planning, testing and conducting large scale migrations and upgrades. One of my key skills within the team is Hadoop for which I obtained my CCAH last year.

2. What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?

I get to work with awesome and intelligent people as well as having the chances to constantly develop my knowledge.

3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Drawing, playing bass, running, tennis, music, art, tattoos, beer, wine, travelling….(the list goes on)


Steffen Rick

Systems Administrator

photo (2)The newest member of Mendeley, Steffen Rick has been in this profession a long time. He started working right away and “I can remember the heydays of the internet, I joined pretty much at that time.” Steffen also remembers the internet bubble bursting, but is happy that both it, and he, have recovered.

Steffen has traveled to many countries and worked several places. He said he feels lucky when he answered the phone when the agency called and asked “Do you want to work for Mendeley?”

1. How do you describe your role/what you do on the SysAdmin Team?

I’m basically hired as Sysadmin, working on keeping things running, hoping I can contribute to improving it too.

2. What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?

The proper display of attitude, software code is actually being written at this place.

3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

All the things others enjoy too. Drinking beer, going to concerts, various forms of sport, working on becoming a FreeBSD committer.

“Education is the most powerful weapon": Congratulations June Advisor of the Month!

Congratulations and thank you to Nour Daoud!

NOUR_PROFILENour is a recent graduate from the Illinois Institute of Technology and part of IIE’s Syrian Research Consortium, which Mendeley supports. She studied Computer Science and Communication for four years in Syria, before transferring to IIT and studying Electrical Engineering. Nour interned at Goldman Sachs in summer 2013, and will begin full-time work at the firm in June 2014.

“During my two years at IIT, I had an awesome research experience in Germany through the RISE program. My project was in telecommunications. Not only did I learn so much during my project, but I also had a great time and met a lot of great minds and fun people,” said Nour.

“I would love for other people to have similar research experiences, especially people coming from areas of conflict where it can be tough to get to resources. I hope to set a good example for anyone with a similar background as me and inspire them to work hard to achieve good results in their life through research and education in general,” she added.

We are honored to support the IIE program and to recognize Nour for her achievements as a student and as a Mendeley Advisor. Learn more about Nour and her journey in this guest blog post (cross-post from “Syrian Students for a better future.”)


“Education is the most powerful weapon:*” My Journey to Illinois Institute of Technology


On September 1, 2012, I said goodbye to my family to take my flight to the US. It was my first flight ever. I was transferring to Illinois Institute of Technology from my beloved mother country, Syria. I wasn’t sure what the future had for me. I was so determined to continue my education that it never occurred to me to worry about the course work in the US. I just knew that my only option was to succeed. I was only worried about getting lost in Abu Dhabi and missing my connecting flight, considering my non-existing sense of direction. I had a bring-it-on attitude towards life and was ready for whatever was coming.

Almost 19 months later, so much has happened! I interviewed and earned an an internship at Goldman Sachs for Summer 2013; applied for and received a RISE (Research in Science and Engineering) fellowship in Germany; developed friendships with students from throughout Chicago and from all over the world – many of whom I know will be life-long friends and colleagues.

I have lived the international experience, and last but not least, I GRADUATED!

I cannot begin to describe how happy I am to be among one of the first four Syrians to graduate under the IIT-Jusoor scholarship with high academic achievements. I have definitely changed a lot during the last two years broadening and deepening my perspective of the world in all of its diversity, and complexity. I still have a great deal to learn and explore about myself and my place in this world – as well as my contributions and service – but it definitely feels awesome to have that BSc degree while doing that

None of this would have been possible without the help of Illinois Tech and Jusoor. The way they cooperated is beyond inspiring. We will be forever thankful for IIT’s effort to help students from countries of conflict, and Jusoor’s effort to help Syrians of all ages to continue their education and build their dreams wherever they find themselves in the world.

I cannot begin to describe how thankful I am for my beloved country, Syria; I am grateful for the outstanding teachers that taught me and for fifteen years of free quality education that shaped who I am today.

What’s going on in my country breaks my heart – every moment of everyday. I know that I cannot stop the conflict, but I’m going to join it with my own weapon: Education! Along with a fundamental belief in the contributions of research and applied service to one’s community.

With so many Syrians losing their chance at education, it’s our responsibility as Syrians to help each other as much as we can. Let’s bring the smiles back to our Syria and guarantee a better future, one educated Syrian at a time.

– Nour Daoud

* “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela


As part of our partnership with the Syrian Research Consortium, Mendeley created a group called Research in Conflict, where researchers, and those supporting research in areas of conflict, can share their thoughts and experiences on the subject.

Expanding impact: The Mendeley Webinar Series

The lone cowboy researcher motif has ridden off into the sunset. With research becoming more and more collaborative and multi-disciplinary, the support networking surrounding researchers is ever-expanding in size and importance. Librarians and institutional support can be especially key; researchers need to have access to the best tools to help them be even more efficient and effective.

Learn how Mendeley can help researchers, librarians, and institutions drive research success with our webinar series, launching this week. This series of four free webinars explores the premium features for users and advanced analytics for librarians being used by institutions across the world.

Want to know what’s happening next for Mendeley? The series kicks-off with Jan Reichelt, Mendeley co-founder and President of Mendeley, who will share the Mendeley roadmap for the next few years.

Schedule and registration information:

Thursday 26 June 2014 17:00-17:50 hrs. CEST


“One year after joining Elsevier – The even better Mendeley!”

Join Jan Reichelt, Mendeley co-founder and President of Mendeley, discusses becoming part of Elsevier, his vision for the future, and how Mendeley continues to “change the way we do research.” Jan will also review the upcoming Mendeley roadmap for rest of 2014 as well as what new innovations to expect from the Mendeley and Elsevier team in 2015. [Register for this webinar]



Tuesday 1 July 2014 16:00-16:50 hrs. CEST

jensdamm“Vision of Technical University of Denmark’s use of Mendeley to drive research and scientific collaboration”

Technical University of Denmark, or DTU, is one of the foremost technical universities in Europe and continues to excel with increasing number of publications and extensive global industry partnerships each year. To build on its vision of research and technical excellence DTU rolled out Mendeley to all of the university and participation grew by 250% in less than 6 months. In this session, presenter Jens Damm Fledelius, Head of Projects at DTU, will talk about the vision of the university library, the progress of the Mendeley project, early signs of success, and the future steps forward. [Register for this webinar]




Thursday 17 July 2014 11:00-11:50 hrs. CEST

“The library’s role in supporting research impact at Hong Kong Baptist University and Eurofound”

christopherchan chloeleiLearn about how Mendeley supports research results and collaboration from two different institutions. Hong Kong Baptist University, a publicly-funded institution focused on providing the best whole person education for its students and European Foundation, will share about their teaching and research focus and why reference management tools are an essential part of the education process from librarians Christopher Chan and Chloe Lei.

vandammeThe European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working conditions (Eurofound) is a tripartite European Union Agency, whose role is to provide knowledge in the area of social and work-related policies will discuss how Mendeley is crucial to sharing and dissemination of new scientific trends and information. Jan Vandamme of the Eurofound Information Centre, will give insights to how these institutions came to learn about Mendeley, their evaluation process, building a business case for internal support, planning of user deployment, the results so far, and their plans for the future. [Register for this webinar]




Thursday 17 July 2014 11:00-11:50 hrs. CEST

Mendeley @ Stanford University

helenJosephineHear about how the library team at Stanford University selected Mendeley, an evolutionary reference management tool connected to one of largest academic social networks, to deploy to researchers and faculty. In one year, more than a thousand researchers have joined the Mendeley group @ Stanford to support both research collaboration and individual research projects. Librarian Helen Josephine teams up with Jessica Rylan, PhD Student, and Gennifer Smith, Master’s Student, to give an overview of how the library took on the initiative and how the students and researchers have embraced the new researcher’s tool to support their work. [Register for this webinar]

If you attend, let us know what you think of the webinar in the comments below!

Submit your paper for Mining Scientific Publications Workshop!

Data Mining Workshop

The 3rd International Workshop on Mining Scientific Publications will take place from the 8th to the 12th September in London, and is a cross-disciplinary workshop for researchers, industry practitioners, digital library developers, and open access enthusiasts. Kris Jack, Chief Data Scientist here at Mendeley is co-organizing the event along with CORE, the Open UniversityAthena Research and Innovation Center, and the European Library/Europeana .

The aim is to bring together people from different backgrounds to explore the possibilities around data mining tools, and how they can be used to save researcher’s time by finding and processing huge amounts of information quickly and easily.

We’re asking for submissions before the 13th July 2014 from those interested in analysing and mining databases of scientific publications, developing systems to enable such analysis, or designing new technologies to improve research and the free availability of research data. Researchers should submit their papers online, for inclusion in the programme. Both long papers (up to eight pages in the ACM style) and short papers (not exceeding four pages) are welcome, as are practical demonstrations and presentation of systems and methods (demonstration submissions should consist of a two-page description of the system, method or tool).

“We’re looking to attract researchers from across academia and industry to work through the amazing possibilities and challenges around mining scientific content. The collaborations that come from these initiatives always yield really interesting results, so I’m looking forward to see what submissions we get through this year” says Kris

The workshop will be structured around three main themes:

  1. The whole ecosystem of infrastructures, including repositories, aggregators, text-and data-mining facilities, impact monitoring tools, datasets, services and APIs that enable analysis of large volumes of scientific publications.
  2. Semantic enrichment of scientific publications by means of text-mining, crowdsourcing or other methods.
  3. Analysis of large databases of scientific publications to identify research trends, high impact, cross-fertilisation between disciplines, research excellence etc.

This year, we also put together a CORE publications dataset containing a large array of publications from various research areas. This includes full-text as well as enriched versions of metadata, with the aim of providing workshop participants with a framework for developing and testing methods and tools around the workshop topics. You can access this data through the CORE portal.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or tweet @WOSP2014

“Nobody Knows a Damn Thing” Luke Dormehl Talks@Mendeley

Luke Dormehl - Talks at Mendeley

Our first Talks@Mendeley got off to a great start with a thought-provoking presentation and discussion with author, journalist and filmmaker Luke Dormehl.

After showing off his own Mendeley Profile, Luke spoke to the Mendeley team and guests about how, as a journalist writing for publications such as The Guardian, Fast Company and Wired he was keenly aware of the pervasiveness of technology:

“If you look at any period in history, the imagery and metaphors are drawn from popular science, and today there is no science more popular than computer science. My interest in technology comes from popular culture. If you want to understand popular culture you really need to engage with technology and the questions it poses, which are really key to understanding how the world works and our relationship it, as well as our relationships with each other, and issues with our own identity.”

As a filmmaker himself, he explained how he came across the famous quote from screenwriter William Goldman (who produced screenplays for All the President’s Men, The Princess Bride, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, amongst many others) which stated that when it came to the entertainment industry, “Nobody knows a damn thing”.  Luke then set out to discover whether this was indeed true, or whether technology could actually help us to, for example, accurately predict what films would succeed at the box office.

Talks at Mendeley William Goldman

In his book, The Formula, Dormehl talks about how a company called Epagogix claims to be able to do just that by analysing scripts using over 30 million unique scoring combinations. Interestingly, it not only churns out a number, but is also able to make creative suggestions based on the data, adjusting scripts to make them more successful and profitable.

“This represents a vision of a future where machine logic can be embedded in the creative process”

But these processes are certainly not straightforward, even in fields such as academic publishing or law, which would seem, to an outsider, to be less subjective and therefore more suitable for automation.

He then outlined an interesting recent experiment, which illustrated how even turning a fairly binary traffic law into an algorithm that issued speeding tickets to infringers accordingly, could be a lot more challenging than you would think. Given the same datasets, two groups of scientists produced algorithms that issued vastly different numbers of tickets, which highlights the many potential difficulties facing the Google Driverless Car project, for example.

Luke concluded his talk by showing how nothing is sacred as far as algorithms go, not even love. He explained how it was even possible to create a virtual girlfriend though a relationship simulator called Kari.

Talks at Mendeley - Kari

Like with any research project worth its salt, writing The Formula left him with more questions than answers, and as you can imagine, the crowd listening to the talk followed up with quite a few insightful points of their own in the Q&A session that followed.

Do watch both videos on the Mendeley YouTube Channel and let us know what you think! We’re also busy arranging another talk on the 18th July, so be sure to watch this space and follow Talks@Mendeley on Twitter for more details!

How to fund a successful scientific Kickstarter campaign



Were you one of the supportive Kickstarters that backed the ZappyLab campaign we told you about in February? It may have been one of the first crowdfund campaigns aimed at scientists. And Lenny Teytelman, ZappyLab co-founder, is sharing his tips and tricks for starting your own scientific crowd fund.



ZappyLab’s Guide to Crowdsourcing

From February to March 15, we ran a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for – our free, up-to-date, crowdsourced repository of life science protocols. Launching and running this Kickstarter campaign was simultaneously one of the smartest and one of the hardest things we did in the two years of our startup. In this post, I would like to share our experience and insights into what it takes to pull off a campaign like this.

It seems that ours was the first crowdfunded campaign aimed specifically at scientists. Many have reached out to me since March to see if crowdfunding is a good way to validate an idea or raise funds to launch a new startup. In all such cases, my answer is an unambiguous “no”. We had considered a Kickstarter campaign as a way to get initial funding for, way back in 2012, before we even incorporated ZappyLab. It is clear today that had we attempted it two years ago, we would have failed spectacularly (if you are too busy with your startup to read all of this, skip to the bottom for 6 specific questions that will help you to determine if it’s a good idea for you).

There is a misleading perception that Kickstarter or Indigogo is a good way to market something. It is just plain wrong, for the vast majority of possible projects. Kickstarter is not an advertising platform. It does not promote your project and bring viewers to your page. That is your job. Kickstarter is a platform that enables crowdfunding – it provides the structure, the trust and security for the backers, the payment processing, and a flawless interface for communicating with your supporters and for promoting your project. But it is up to you to bring the backers to your page. And by the way, Kickstarter makes no secret of it; it tells every project creator very explicitly to reach out to friends and followers, making it clear that the success relies entirely on the outreach efforts of the people launching the project [1].

Here are important things to keep in mind about ZappyLab’s Kickstarter. This is applicable to many crowdsourced projects that aim at a specific niche demographic, like life science researchers, rather than the entire world population.

  • We raised half a million dollars in angel investments and have been building free and amazing tools for scientists for two years. The science community knows about us and likes what we have done and are attempting to do. We have thousands of users of PubChase and we leaned on their support repeatedly throughout the month of our campaign, asking them explicitly to back our effort.
  • I have worked very hard and have slept very little since we founded ZappyLab. But nothing in the past two years comes close to the sustained effort that was required during our Kickstarter marathon. I literally slept 3-4 hours per night for the entire duration of the campaign.
  • Serendipitously, a blog post that I wrote about academia went massively viral (100,000 views) in February and brought many visitors to our Kickstarter campaign.
  • Science companies Mendeley, Figshare, and PeerJ agreed to help us before we launched. They offered memberships for their services as rewards and they blogged and tweeted about us.
  • Hundreds of people blogged, e-mailed, tweeted and advocated tirelessly on our behalf, with an explicit call to fund our project because of what it can do for life science research.

All of us at ZappyLab are amazed, touched, and humbled by the community’s support of our project. We have recently begun to send the promised rewards to our backers. I will soon take a few days off work to bake gene-shaped cookies for the sweet-craving scientists out there. Yet, these are just tiny symbolic tokens of appreciation. I honestly do not know of a proper way to really thank everyone who supported and continues to support us. Perhaps, delivering on the promise will come close to appropriately thanking everyone.

It is not an exaggeration when I say that there is no way we could have succeeded with our campaign without the tremendous effort of the community to publicize and encourage the funding of our project. And that is the main point of this guide – Kickstarter is not a way to build the community; rather, if you have built the community, it is a way to tap into the community’s support.


Here is a list of questions you should answer before launching a crowdsourcing campaign.

  1. Do you expect Kickstarter to bring attention and visitors to your project? It might happen if they feature you on the homepage or in their e-mail to users with the “projects we love” list, but this is not something you can count on. Assume that no one except you knows that you have launched this campaign.
  2. Are you trying to fund a device or object that everyone craves? Is your project funding the creation of a product that will itself be the reward that you will send to your backers? If yes, you have a shot at going viral.
  3. If you have a nascent idea and no prototype or proof that you can deliver, assume that the only people backing you will be your friends and family. How many close relatives and friends do you personally have? If each one of them contributes $50, will that be enough?
  4. If you are trying to raise an amount that goes beyond your friends and family, how will you publicize the fact that you are running the crowdfunding project? Assume roughly a 1% conversion rate. That is, if you will need approximately 500 backers, you’ll have to somehow let 50,000 or more people know that you have launched the project.
  5. Do you already have a community of supporters likely to back you? Do you have mass media contacts, bloggers, and famous people who have promised to bring you visibility? Don’t bet on media coverage to help your Kickstarter project go viral. It works in reverse – if your project goes viral, you are likely to get media coverage. And for every article about you in a major media outlet, assume that you are likely to get only a modest bump of 50-100 backers.
  6. This may be the most important question of all – are you doing this full time? Are you going to be able to devote every waking second, for the entire duration of the campaign, to promoting this?



Kickstarter 101 FAQ: “Where do backers come from?”

In most cases, the majority of funding initially comes from the fans and friends of each project.


Are you considering a crowd fund campaign? Tell us about it and we may be able to help you out too!