Congrats July Advisor of the Month — Polly Compston!

Congratulations and thank you to Polly Compston!

meWe first met Polly in January when she was working to get her organization started on Mendeley. We loved her enthusiasm and encouraged her to apply to be a Mendeley Advisor.
Since then, Polly has embraced literally every aspect of the Advisor Program — writing guest blog posts, participating in beta testing, presenting Mendeley to her colleagues, and meeting with us for User Testing.

Polly is a research advisor for the Brooke, which is an NGO that aims to improve the lives of working donkeys, horses, and mules in developing countries. Suitable for a researcher who did her studies in veterinary school and spent a period of time volunteering overseas while doing a three-year residency in clinical research, earning her MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health.

Polly says working at the Brooke is a “dream job – my interest in international animal health began during my period of veterinary work abroad and this is the perfect fit of this interest and my skills as a researcher. I work alongside the vets in our country programmes to increase their research capacity and provide support throughout any research activities that they are working on.”


How long have you been on Mendeley?

About 6 months – just a newbie!
What were you using prior to Mendeley?


How does Mendeley influence your research?

It makes it much easier to share information with our overseas colleagues – we can discuss research papers over time zones and if internet connections are unreliable. It allows us to be much more collaborative as an organisation

Why did you decide to become an Advisor?

It seemed the logical decision – a central part of my role is to coordinate research resources throughout the organisation, and as Mendeley is relatively new within the Brooke we needed to develop a strategy to train everyone up.

How have you been spreading the word about Mendeley?

I am just off to Ethiopia to start the role out to our international colleagues – we are holding a workshop for the senior veterinary staff. 22 vets from 8 countries will be in attendance and I will be running an introductory session to Mendeley and we’ll discuss the best ways to use it.

What book are you reading at the moment and why?

IMG_20140503_132525In Ethiopia with a Mule” by Dervla Murphy – because of my upcoming work trip to Ethiopia and the fact that it will be followed by some personal R&R that includes trekking in the mountains with a mule!

Any fun fact people might be surprised to learn about you?

– I have a three-legged cat

– I wore a builder’s hard hat as a teenager

– There are no high heels too high for me

What is the best part about being a researcher?

It’s exciting generating new information and seeing it being put into practice. One of the favourite things about my job is see other people develop their research skills – one of my favourite metaphors is that each piece of research is a brick in the wall and the researchers are the mortar that hold it together – the more people the bigger the wall can be and the better the researchers the stronger that mortar is.

And the worst?

Sometimes things take a long time. The difference in timescales between being a vet in practice, where the daily to do list is completed every day and research, which occurs over much longer periods makes it hard sometimes to feel as though you are being productive

What is the one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?

Honestly – how nice the people who work there are! I think lots of people know what a useful tool it is for researchers but I have been so impressed by the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff in the London office. (Editor’s note: we’re blushing, Polly!)

Meet the Product Team!

We often have users writing to us describing Mendeley as a sort of religious experience — we see a lot of exclamation points here at Mendeley. So it may sound a bit clinical to describe Mendeley as a “product,” but everything the Product Team does here at Mendeley leads to creating the tool you know and love (exclamation points!!).

Product deals with all aspects of how you, as users, interact with Mendeley from your computer or tablet or phone. They work collaboratively with each other and with the other teams at Mendeley to create the features you love (or, perhaps, need), and ensure that they are usable.

Our Product Team is always interested to learn more about how you use Mendeley and other websites and tools. If you are in the London area at any time, email us and arrange a User Testing session — there is a pack of goodies and a gift certificate in it for you!

Matt Coulson

Senior Product Manager

Follow me on Twitter @mattcoulson72 Matt Coulson

I’ve worked in Product Management for around 12 years, including working for Messagelabs (now Symantec), Virgin Media and, for the last 6 years, at the BBC. At the BBC I led a team of 5 product managers and worked on a number of their products and services including News, Sport, Radio and Music and BBC Red Button!

How would you describe your role at Mendeley? My role is to bring a portfolio level view and agile product ownership expertise to the product team. In other words, help the product machine run that bit better and slicker. Here at Mendeley we’re entering a ‘hyper growth’ phase which means we have the amazing opportunity to build lots of cool new features that will delight our users and support our strategy. To do this we’ll need to do a number of things, but perhaps most importantly we need to invest wisely, make the right choices and trade-offs and ultimately deliver products that knock the socks off our users. My aim is to make this process better, clearer and more transparent.

What is your favourite part about working at Mendeley? I think I’d have to say the people. They are one smart and savvy bunch. Good to see so much passion for delivering top quality experiences to users as well.

What do you like to do in your free time? I like to travel, cook, walk, exercise (lightly!), game, films, gigs and reading. Sadly I can’t profess to be a part-time acrobat or other exotic pass-times but I’m open to ideas!

See Wah Cheng

Product Manager

Follow me on Twitter @seewahcheng See-Wah

I joined Mendeley as a web developer four years ago. Over my career in Mendeley, I have seen the release of many products. Gradually I picked up more insights into user experience and user needs, so I decided to take on the challenge of product management! I feel passionate about improving people’s lives through technology.

How would you describe your role at Mendeley? To transform visions into tangible features. I have mostly worked with web products. I love my role in Mendeley because it is so multi-faceted. I am involved in literally every stage of a project, from defining goals, interviewing users, through to organising and prioritizing sprint tasks. I work with data, design, technology and people! The sense of achievement when you see ideas and wireframes turning into actual products that people actually use is incredible.

What is your favourite part about working at Mendeley? Everyone here is so passionate about what we do. And more importantly, we are making the world a better place by giving researchers a helping hand!

What do you like to do in your free time? I do quite a bit of cycling and rock climbing. I am also very much into architecture and architectural history. Check it out.

Steve Dennis

Product Designer

Follow me on Twitter @subcide Steve-Dennis

Steve grew up in New Zealand, and moved to London in 2010 ‘for a bit of a change’. He’s been designing for the web for over 12 years, and has involved himself in many areas including interaction and visual design, user experience, front-end web development, and product management.

How would you describe your role at Mendeley? I am currently a Product Designer for the iOS and upcoming Android apps, though I dabble in many areas across the company.

What is your favourite part about working at Mendeley? Interacting with our users, and delivering things that solve real-world problems or pain points for them. The free food is also pretty great.

What do you like to do in your free time? Design, rock climbing, and disruptive technologies (specifically Virtual Reality and Bitcoin).

Matthew Green

Product Manager

Matt-GreenInternational Politics degree at the University of Birmingham, which led me into a career in online gaming (obviously) with Betfair. I was with Betfair for 5 years until I decided I needed a change…went off to Central & South America for a few months, came back and worked on a startup with a friend before doing some work with and then finally finding my calling at for the last (almost) 2 years. The product was awesome, the industry was interesting and the people are great, so it’s been a good few years. In other, less interesting news, i’ve been in London since 2006 – resident solely in Northeast London until recently when i’ve taken the drastic decision to move to the up & coming Southeast.

How would you describe your role at Mendeley? I look after the institutional product offering at Mendeley (MIE) – which involves speaking to librarians, research managers & the odd researcher to find what what they want & need to support an institutional implementation of Mendeley. User adoption is key for us, and the more Institutions that adopt Mendeley the better as all their researchers get to use a premium version of our great product!

What is your favourite part about working at Mendeley? Doing something useful – it makes a big difference compared to my previous roles. I also don’t think I could ever not work next to a food market anymore…

What do you like to do in your free time? I play football for Priory Park Rangers (named after the first road I lived on when I moved to London), and cycle & run a lot…I also like to go on holiday…as much as I can…to as many places as possible 🙂

Greg Homola

UX Designer

Greg HomolaHow would you describe your role at Mendeley? My favourite part is I do not have to choose between visual and UX design. That means my role is pretty varied and I really enjoy it.

What is your favourite part about working at Mendeley? I work with amazing people both personally and professionally, and I mean it.

What do you like to do in your free time? I love spending my time with my family, travelling. Also I am a keen amateur photographer, so I can combine all these things on some lucky days. I like reading and learning and also like sports like basketball, snowboarding and others.

Andrew Officer

UX/Product Designer

Follow me on Twitter @andrewofficer AndrewOfficer

Digital product designer with a background in interaction design. Previous to Mendeley, I co-founded a web-design startup in the West Midlands, where I worked as design lead, producing the creative and front-end code for public, private and e-commerce websites. My specialities live in end-to-end product development, user-centered research, interaction design and user interface design for online digital products.

How would you describe your role at Mendeley? UX/Product hybrid. I work closely with business stakeholders, product managers, designers, developers and end-users to understand needs and influence product strategy, ensuring that the best products and features make it to the marketplace and with an optimal user experience. I’m involved in all user facing aspects of product delivery, from speaking with researchers, requirements gathering, scoping out interaction design, designing interfaces with abit of marketing thrown in.

What is your favourite part about working at Mendeley? The diversity of the role and being involved in all aspects of the business. Having the scope to work with various skillsets in areas that wouldn’t typically be under my remit. Solving difficult problems from a hugely smart and diverse audience group with differing careers levels, from a range of disciplines that have complex use cases and needs to work with. Being part of something than can ultimately change the world for the better makes the job hugely satisfying compared to other industries.

What do you like to do in your free time? In my spare time I can be found collecting and mixing records, snowboarding, DIY and enjoying the unhealthy culinary delights the world has to offer such as hamburgers, hipster beer, curried goat and ramen.

Joe Shell

Senior Product Manager — Data

Follow me on Twitter @JosephShell Joe shell

I like persistent, discoverable, reusable, sciency, webby things. Formerly of Nature.

How would you describe your role at Mendeley? I own the Mendeley Data program of projects.

What is your favourite part about working at Mendeley? It’s growing.

What do you like to do in your free time? Tarot card reading.

“Back to the Future of Money” David Birch Talks@Mendeley

Where does the money in a £20 note actually exist? It’s the sort of thing you don’t often think about. Unless, of course you’re an expert like David Birch, whose day job is heading a consultancy specializing in secure electronic transactions, and who’s also just published a book called “Identity is the New Money.”

He used that question during his Talk@Mendeley to get the audience thinking about what we understand money to be, and put forward the idea that:

“Technologically, money is a primitive form of memory”

Talks at Mendeley David Birch 2

As the title of the talk suggests, David actually goes back to the past in order to understand the future of money, and what it holds in store for all of us as transactions technology advances.

Paradoxically, he says, we can best understand the Bitcoin phenomenon by studying the stone currency system in the Pacific Island of Yap, where ownership of the valuable, but extremely large and cumbersome carved stones is transferred without the need to physically move them. The entire system is based on accepting the value of the stones and remembering who they belong to at any given time, even if the stone in question happens to be at the bottom of the sea.

The way money works these days is actually quite recent, David explained.

“The birth of modern money dates back only to around August 1971, when Richard Nixon ended the convertibity of the US Dollar, so actually, money as we know it right now is only about 40 years old. It’s not a law of nature.”

Social Anthropologists such as Jack Weatherford agree that the electronic money world looks much more like the Neolithic economy before the invention of money than the market as we have known it for the past few hundred years.

“In a world where everybody is connected to everybody else, what do you actually need the money for? If this was a Neolithic clan, you’d have sets of obligations to each other that you would remember. Money is a marker that allows you to scale that process. But. If you can remember everything, then you might not actually need money at all.”

And that is where technology comes in, making that memory-based system scalable: Old universal currency systems are broken, Birch argues, and they reduce people to having to engage in what he calls “security theatre”.

He illustrated this by recounting a recent experience of trying to buy a cup of coffee using his credit card at a Las Vegas branch of Starbucks, and being asked to present some form of picture ID. In the end he produced an expired security pass which the person serving him accepted in spite of having no real way of knowing whether it was, in fact, genuine.

“There’s no actual security taking place here, but as long as I know my lines and she knows her lines, then everyone is happy. That’s where we are with transactions in general right now. But if I had had my Starbucks app, I could have paid for my coffee using that without any trouble.”

Talks at Mendeley David Birch 3

The idea is that in an age dominated by mobile phones and apps, we don’t need one universal sort of currency that works everywhere. We can instead more easily and securely use “Starbucks Money” or any other kind of situation-specific money, with the same sort of convenience, as technology mediates your transactions for you in increasingly efficient ways.

In this brave new world, crowdsourced resources and systems based on your reputation – such as a LinkedIn profile – are much more appropriate forms of verifying identity than top-down imposed mechanisms:

“I wager money that it’s harder for any of you to forge a LinkedIn profile than it would be to forge a Western Australian Driving License that would get past someone”

disclaimer: Neither David Birch nor Mendeley is advising or in any way encouraging people to try either of these options at home.

Bitcoin does not, therefore, represent the actual future of transactions and money, but this cusp we’ve arrived at where it is not only possible, but safer and more convenient to create lots of different types of money that work within different communities. In this scenario, Bitcoin is the piece of technology that will enable this and allow that to happen. The Flux Capacitor of money if you will.

Talks at Mendeley David Birch 1

You can watch all the talks and Q&As on the Mendeley YouTube Channel Playlist, and to keep in the loop about the next Talks@Mendeley be sure to follow us on Twitter



Crowdfunding to develop healthcare matching technology

Utilize health

A technology platform is helping to match paraplegic patients and those with neurological disabilities with the best healthcare providers available. They now want to use crowdfunding to develop this service even further, and their Indiegogo campaign has already reached over half of their initial $60,000 goal. Here’s their story, which began over 10 years ago…

By Jessica Harthcock, Founder and CEO of Utilize Health

I was 17 when I was paralyzed practicing gymnastics with the goal of bettering my skills for the springboard diving team. From the beginning, my prognosis was very grim; doctors said I would never regain function. This was certainly not what I thought my life would look like at age 17. My family and I wanted options – we wanted a treatment or therapy we could TRY. So for the next several years, my family and I traveled in search of highly specialized rehabilitation treatments. We went everywhere – Mayo Clinic, Vanderbilt, facilities in Chicago, Miami and Louisville. I tried anything and everything I could get my hands (or legs) on. I tried Lokomat therapy, e-stem, underwater treadmill training, vestibular therapy, hippo therapy (and the list goes on). After several years of hard work, I learned to walk again. Today, I still don’t have sensation below T3, but I walk by sight (and with the help of my service dog, Ozzie). It’s been a journey, one that’s never really over.

Ozzie 2

This experience has taught me a lot about myself, but also about the gaps in the healthcare system. It was extremely difficult to learn about all of the existing and new treatments. Googling only gets one so far. Once I found a treatment or therapy I wanted to try, no one could tell me where to go to get it. Locating a facility with a particular therapy sometimes took months. After experiencing difficulties in finding resources and therapies, I knew there had to be an easier way, so I vowed to create a tool that could help other patients find the resources they needed without wasting time, energy and financial resources. Thus, Utilize Health was born.

Utilize Health is a platform that matches patients with neurological disabilities to the therapies and facilities they need to maximize their potential for recovery. Think OpenTable or, but for patients and facilities/therapies.

My husband and I started the company in May 2013. We were accepted into a top-ranked business accelerator program called Jumpstart Foundry. Through the program, we developed the idea into a sustainable business.

Ozzie 1

In December of 2013, Utilize Health was very fortunate to unexpectedly receive national press from USA Today. Patients, families, facilities and equipment manufacturers all started reaching out to see if they could use our service. But there was a BIG problem… the website didn’t exist yet. We were in the process of raising funds to build the web application.

I lost sleep… a lot of sleep. What do we do? People need this and they need it NOW. Patients don’t want to wait. Every email, phone call, and social media request seemed more urgent than the next.

The Utilize Health team rallied. We created a plan. We started to manually match patients to therapies and facilities across the country. Manual matching is completed by essentially looking at spreadsheets and other paper databases. Manual matching is time consuming. It takes anywhere from 7-10 days, sometimes longer.

In April, the Utilize Health team had successfully matched more than 100 patients to therapies and facilities across the country. Patients and their loved ones were thrilled with the resources Utilize Health was able to provide them.

Unfortunately, there are still patients and their families on the waitlist waiting to be matched. More patients sign up daily. With a wait list a mile long, we need to automate the matching process. This is when we decided to ask the public for help through crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding has given us an opportunity to gain support within the community. In less than 48 hours, we raised more than $20,000. We were completely blown away by people’s generosity.

All the funds pledged will do directly towards the development and creation of the web application to automate the matching process. Perks and prizes are offered such as Utilize Health swag and patient advocate subscriptions. Our campaign is live until August 22nd. Click on the link below to check out the campaign.

We are so thankful to everyone who has contributed thus far. We truly hope to make an impact for those individuals who have neurological conditions. As we say at Utilize Health, No One Walks Alone.

If you’re interested in the subject, why not join the Mendeley Crowdfunding group, or let us know in the comments below if you have any experiences to share with the community!




Talks@Mendeley – Is Identity the New Money?


Dave Birch

Our next Talks@Mendeley is this is fast approaching, on Friday the 18th July at 6:00pm.

The speaker this time around is David Birch, whose TED talk  “A New Way to Stop Identity Theft” had been watched over 100,000 times. He expands on some of the talk’s themes in his latest book “Identity is the New Money”. David is an identity and transactions consultant and Director of Consult Hyperion and chairman of the annual Digital Money Forum and Digital Identity Forum in London.  His Mendeley talk will also explore the ways in which technology and the proliferation of digital currencies is changing how we think about our identities, and about transactions in general. Are we marching towards a future where cash will become redundant?

The talk will be streamed live and the videos will also be added to Talks@Mendeley playlist on our YouTube channel, where you can also watch the videos from the last talk, “Nobody Knows a Damn Thing” by Luke Dormehl.

Do send in your questions via Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below!


Mendeley moves into the cloud: It’s nice up here!

Mendeley Kite Cloud by Tom Atkinson
Photo by Tom Atkinson @R3Digital

Last week we took what might seem like a small step, but was in fact a very giant leap by moving into the cloud. Now you might be thinking “Mendeley is already cloud-based, what are you talking about?” It’s true that our users can access their papers, annotations and all other data on any device, so we’re very much a cloud platform. In the past, however, Mendeley’s own servers were not cloud-based, which meant that the process of maintaining, updating and developing the product was sometimes not as optimal as it could be.

It’s a problem that many start-ups face, specially as they scale up, since it’s expensive and time-consuming to overhaul your systems without causing significant disruption to your users*. That, however, is one of the advantages of having the support and resources from Elsevier, who are investing on the Mendeley structure to make sure that we’re sustainable, scalable, and able to integrate with and develop tools and functionalities to meet researcher’s needs.

Having our data in the cloud means more reliability, speed and the ability to really make the whole development process more agile. That certainly means a happier Mendeley team, and we know it will help bring a better, faster-improving product for our community.

There was a real space-launch atmosphere as various Mendeley teams came together to work out the complex logistics of moving over 100 Terabytes of user data safely into the cloud, but it all went smoothly, thanks to the brave efforts of Robin Stephenson, James Rasell, Chris Barr, Callum Anderson, Kubilay Kara, James Gibbons and Merrick Barton (Jan was just basking in the atmosphere while feeling smug following the Germany-Brasil game).

Mendeley Control Room

We hope you like the improvements that this change will bring, we’re certainly excited about the future up here in the cloud!

* We did have a small amount of down time on Wednesday as the move happened, and apologies go to anybody who was inconvenienced.

Mendeley Supports Entrepreneurship Studies Network

Workshop 3

Mendeley Advisor Dr Richard Tunstall is a Lecturer in Enterprise at the University of Leeds. He recently used Mendeley’s community features to support an innovative multi-disciplinary workshop, and here’s how he got on:

Workshop 2

I organised a two-day residential workshop focussing on social and cultural aspects of entrepreneurship; a relatively novel focus for social science research, which is building momentum as a multi-disciplinary community.

This event brought together a unique mix of researchers, who wouldn’t normally meet together at established academic conferences. 80 attendees took part and the event led to the creation of a new Entrepreneurship Studies Network, which was supported by Mendeley’s community before the workshop even began.

I set up a new group on Mendeley where we provided advance key readings from journals which all participants were asked to read before they attended, in order to set the agenda. As keynote speakers agreed to take part, we invited them to add in a short-list of their own recommended reading on the subject. Finally, we opened the group up to contributions from everyone after the event, inviting them to continue posting papers they’ve written and recommended on the subject.

Using Mendeley has supported us in forming a new international community of researchers ranging from renowned professors to early-stage PhD students. People joined us from all over the world, including the USA, UK, Europe, Australia and Canada, and some have also gone on to create their own private collaboration groups to work on new projects together. The discussion area also provides an opportunity to share ideas and promote opportunities to meet at new conferences. The group remains open to everyone, so if you’re interested, why not join us?