An exploratory study of paper sharing in Mendeley’s public groups

Huiqin (head only)Here at Mendeley, we love the efforts our Advisors and users go to, to help us improve. Following on from our  March 2015 Advisor of the Month, Huiqin Gao (Wuhan University, China) writes today’s guest blog post and gives us a summary of her investigation into paper sharing in Mendeley’s public groups.

On the Mendeley website, registered users can create or join groups. If a group is set up as “open” or “invite-only”, instead of “private”, then it is a publicly-visible group. Member and paper lists of a public group is visible to any user, including non-members, who visits it. From the perspective of information accumulation, Mendeley’s public groups become valuable resources as a starting point for seeking people and materials.

So how ‘valuable’ are these groups?
The measurement of evaluating information resources is defined as informetrics in studies of information science. I quantitatively researched Mendeley’s groups in aspect of papers, and used a novel method of informetrics – altmetrics – to measure groups’ literature values.

Data collection was conducted in June 2014 with a Python-coded web crawler. A total of 106,156 public groups were extracted, and 5,034,736 papers (including duplications) from within those groups. Some interesting findings are detailed below.

Sizes and distributions
Almost 2/3 of the groups had only one member. It is common sense that one group has to have at least one member: the creator himself. However,2/3 groups have attracted no other members. The reason for this is unknown, but maybe the creator stopped curating and managing the group after creating it.

The largest group has 1,170 members. Its name was ‘Qualitative Research Methodology’. It is a multi-disciplinary group of ‘Business Administration’ ‘Management Science / Operation Research’ and ‘Social Sciences’. This group may have so many members because qualitative methodology could be applied to many fields of research, so there are a lot of people interested in being a member.

Amazingly, one of Mendeley’s public groups has as many as 90,458 papers. This group, named ‘Vaccine 2’, is under the discipline of ‘Biological Science’. That’s not strange because on Web of Science, biology, chemistry and medicine are the disciplines that have largest number of papers. Since so many publications are produced, they are also rich resources on Mendeley.

Disciplinary differencesScreen Shot 2015-04-27 at 13.46.36
I counted the group numbers of each discipline, and the top five are listed below. It’s not unusual to find biology and medicine here, because they have abundant resources of publications.  Computer and engineering are disciplines highly involved with the internet, so it’s quite convenient for them to base communications on Mendeley’s groups. Social sciences is a discipline widely intersected with other disciplines, and therefore it has a large user population, and thus accounts for so many groups.

Most valuable groups
In my research, I defined ‘Average Readership (AR)’ to evaluate groups. This value is similar to the ‘Impact Factor’ that is used to measure influences of journals. But in my study, a high AR doesn’t mean high influence. Groups are not the only way people could access a paper, and therefore groups are just accumulations of papers. The higher a group’s AR, the more likely it is a valuable accumulation.

The calculation of groups’ AR value could be used as a dimension of ranking criteria of Mendeley’s search engine. Currently on Mendeley, there seems to be no other ranking rules except text relevance. For group searching on Mendeley, if you can identify highest AR groups by the first glance, you will save lot time scrolling down and jumping among pages before you decide which group to click on.

The full-text, open-access version of Huiqin’s article can be accessed directly here, or indirectly via this IDEALS webpage.

How-to series: Maintain a reading list on your website using Mendeley Groups [part 12 of 12]

One of the great uses of public groups on Mendeley is maintaining a curated set of references about a given topic. This can become really handy for many different reasons. One of which might be the maintenance of a reading list. For this post, we will use the example use-case of a teacher that wants to maintain a reading list for their class.

By creating an invite-only public group on Mendeley, you can put together a list of references along with anyone you invite to the group. So, in our hypothetical teacher story, some potential invitees would be students or teaching assistants.

Ok, so let’s look at how this would work:

    1. Our teacher needs a website where the reading list will be embedded.
    2. Next step would be to create a public invite-only group to store the references they’d like to have listed on the website. This can be done in Mendeley Desktop or Mendeley Web.


3. Once the group is created, the teacher (or an invited member of the group) can add references to the group folder. Simply drag and drop references or PDFs into the group.

4. With the references added to the group, it is now possible to go ahead and get the necessary code to embed the reading list on the class website. The appearance of the embedded code can be customized via a set of option.


5. Once the HTML code is added to the website, it now dynamically updates whenever the reference list is updates within Mendeley Desktop. No more editing HTML or making changes to the website code.


By using the embeded code, no further HTML code is required to maintain the website. This means that next year, if the reading list needs updating, it’s simply a matter of adding, removing or updating references in the Mendeley Group.

Here are the previous entries in this twelve part How-to series:

Mendeley is now more social: featuring collaborative groups, in-app tutorial, & updated citation styles.

This week we have released a new version of Mendeley with some major updates. The major new feature in Mendeley is public collaborative groups.

What are groups?

Groups are a simple way for you to collaborate with your colleagues to create a shared collection of documents. Groups allow members to put together a list of papers and share notes. There are three types of groups:
Read More »

Find Out What You’ve Missed: Use Mendeley and Stay Up to Date

It’s time to fire up the laptop and the app and get back to work.

The hazy, hot days of summer are behind us, and it’s time to fire up the app and the laptop, catch up on what one may have missed whilst on the beach, and get back to work. With so much information being generated on a daily basis, it can be a daunting task to get on top of several months’ worth of new information.

Mendeley makes that process easier.  We have great features which make it more convenient than ever to stay up to date.


Researchers have come to rely on Mendeley Suggest: as you add documents to your reference manager, Suggest learns what topics may be of interest to you and provides additional articles. The more documents you add, the more Suggest refines its recommendations.


If you are kicking off a new project, why not try using a Mendeley Group to share full-text articles with up to 25 collaborators? Article highlights, annotations and notes within private groups are synchronised to all group members, which is a convenient method to ensure context.


Mendeley Feed provides a convenient way to stay up-to-date with the latest information about your work or field of interest. Start by building your follower network; you can post news links and upload documents of interest as you find items worth sharing with your peers.

A great new feature of Mendeley Feed that you may have missed: You can now easily keep track of new publications authored by your collaborators. Simply link up your Scopus profile to your Mendeley account and we will post to your Feed whenever any of your co-authors publish something new.


You can manage your library, read and annotate documents on the go with the Mendeley Mobile apps for iOS and Android.

We have enhanced the features of the Mendeley Mobile app, making it easier than ever to stay up to date no matter where you are.  Via the app, you can post status and drop comments onto the news feed.  Greater mobile functionality will become available over the autumn months.

Get productive with Mendeley

The transition from summer to autumn, from t-shirts to cardigans, from bathing trunks to full backpacks, will always be a dramatic shift.  But thanks to Mendeley’s features, it can be a productive time as well.

Congratulations to our Advisor of the Month, Duncan Casey!

Congratulations and thank you to Duncan Casey! Duncan is one of the Mendeley Advisors who showcased his research work through a hands-on demonstration at Mendeley’s booth at New Scientist Live! Duncan and his colleagues from Imperial College brought along their laser tractor beam and challenged attendees to race a polystyrene ball around a track! Yes, we said tractor beam.

While at New Scientist Live, Duncan also helped answer questions about science, which we posted on Twitter under the hashtag #MendeleyWall, and appeared on BBC Radio 5 answering callers’ questions live at New Scientist Live!

Learn more about Duncan and why he thinks Mendeley is great even for technophobes:

How did you get into your field and what is your research story?
Mine’s been less a career path and more a random walk. I started out my scientific career expecting to be a drug development chemist but once I actually got to try it, I found I didn’t like it much. From there, I started investigating drug transport around the body, ended up developing techniques and tools to analyse cell membranes and almost accidentally picked up some experience in laser optics along the way. My research now revolves around mixing the three skill-sets together – in using lasers and surface chemistry to do biology experiments on a very small scale.
Where do you do your research/work the best? What kind of environment suits you?
Creative anarchy! When everything is working well, there’s a lot of excited shouting going on as a room full of smart people bounce ideas off each other. Some ideas are ridiculous, some are inspired, and a few are both.

How long have you been on Mendeley and what were you using prior to Mendeley and how does Mendeley influence your research?
I’ve been using Mendeley since about 2008, I think – I was asked to review it for a newspaper article, and found it a huge improvement on any of the reference management platforms I’d encountered up until that point. At the time it didn’t quite do what I needed, but clearly had a lot of potential, so I got involved as an advisor and helped a little with the development and testing of Mendeley Groups.

My research involves lots of people with widely differing areas of expertise spread across several countries, and everyone’s learning at least one new science. Being able to keep a body of both our own work and a core package of reference texts in one place has helped hugely when bringing new members up to speed, while being able to discuss and debate new papers or ideas in a single platform has been a lot of help.

Why did you decide to become an Advisor and how are you involved with the program?
When I first started using Mendeley it was only really suitable for small groups of researchers – it was more a reference manager than an out-and-out collaboration tool. At the time, I was working on my Ph.D. at Imperial’s Institute of Chemical Biology, and we needed something with a bit more breadth that could handle 30-40 researchers attacking a problem at the same time. That fed into what became Mendeley Groups, and my team became the pilot project for Imperial College’s use of the system as it became an increasingly integral part of the way we worked. I now use the same system to work with my team of engineering students at LJMU, as I try to turn them into physicists and instrument designers.

What academic/researcher/librarian would you like to work with or meet, dead or alive?
Richard Feynman. He was a seriously, seriously smart man with a pointy sense of humour, and a side-line playing bongo drums in strip clubs.

Attendee at New Scientist Live attempting to steer a particle around a laser beam track created by Casey

What book are you reading at the moment and why?
Depressingly, I’m trying to teach myself a couple of programming languages as I’m getting tired of being shown up by my students – that’s taking up a fair bit of my time. Outside of that, though, I’m slowly working my way through Jody Taylor’s novels about time-travelling historians. You wouldn’t necessarily accuse them of being high literature, but the enthusiastic chaos and cobbled-together hardware she describes makes me think she’s spent some time in academic R&D.

What is the best part about working in research?
I work in an expensive, dangerous toy shop making lasers do things they aren’t supposed to. What’s not to like? What’s really good fun is when you see something dreamt up on the back of a beer mat turning into a real experiment, instrument or product. The very best ones are those that are glaringly obvious to everyone exactly one second after you’ve made the first prototype – those are the ideas you know are going to be successful.

And the worst/most challenging part about working in research?
It’s about 99% frustration to 1 part exultation. If you aren’t comfortable with (or at least able to tolerate) really great-sounding ideas failing because of either accident, oversight or just some weird interaction with something that no-one had seen before, it’s not a game for you. When it’s good, though, it’s the best job in the world.

What is the one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?
Just about every function it has is exactly where you’d expect to find it – someone clearly spent a lot of time and effort making the thing intuitive to use, and even my old technophobe supervisors got to grips with it pretty quickly.

Congratulations April Advisor of the Month!

Sofia BlazevicCongratulations and thank you to Advisor Sofia Blazevik! Sofia is a PhD at the Department of Animal Physiology in Zagreb, Croatia. Sofia joined the Mendeley Advisors exactly two years ago and since then has hosted a “Blaze” of seminars and workshops on Mendeley (forgive the pun!)

Sophia works on animal models of neurobiological disorders and also on bioethics.  “I enjoy this field of research and most of all I enjoy sharing this with my students,” she said. “I love transferring knowledge, empowering people with it.”

What is the one thing she’d like people to know about Mendeley?

“Mendeley lets you concentrate on what research really is about: discovering more new phenomena while wasting the least time writing about it.”

Where do you do your research/work the best? What kind of environment suits you?
I do my best research working with a group of people, interchanging ideas, big open spaces suit me best. When I have to write a paper I have to isolate completely, but the rest of the time I work best with a team.

How long have you been on Mendeley and what were you using prior to Mendeley and how does Mendeley influence your research?
I have been on Mendeley for 7 years already! I had tested Endnote and Zotero prior to Mendeley but for a very short time. I was at the beginning of my research career and wanted to make things easier. Why would I do the work a program on my computer could do for me, and do it better?! I was decided to find the appropriate program that would take the hours out of reference writing. After trying other programs, I loved the way Mendeley was so user friendly and easy to use, and at the same time adaptable and flexible (go ahead write your own .csl file!).Kulturni centar Harmica

As time goes by I like it more and more, because it keeps getting better and better. The students at my last workshop smiled at my enthusiasm at the begging: “you are in love with Mendeley” they said, and I answered “I am and at the end of the workshop you will be too”, when they started inserting the inline citations and creating the reference lists they sighed “Now, I am in love too!”

Why did you decide to become an Advisor and how are you involved with the program?
I really enjoy teaching, and I find it very fulfilling giving people the tools to make their work easier. I always say that if there were a working position called “the problem solver,” I would love to have it. Mendeley is a research problem solver. Being an Advisor allowed me to spread the word, get it to as many people as I can, make people’s research life easier, more enjoyable.

To date I have mostly given workshops to small groups (I prefer smaller groups). I do an introduction in which I give an overview of the whole program and then we get to work step by step, we literally go through every option on the program. I ask everyone to bring their own devices, the ones they will be using later. We go from zero to master, so that the participant goes home with his/her own Mendeley library started. This way I know that they will use it and I often get emails soon after with questions on troubleshooting.

What academic/researcher/librarian would you like to work with or meet, dead or alive?IMG_5394
I would love to meet two dead researchers: Jérôme Lejeune, because he was an honest researcher putting people first; and Santiago Ramón y Cajal, his histological work was amazing! I would love to learn from him how to approach a scientific problem. And two that are alive: Michael Gazzaniga and Vilayanur S. Ramachandran both are neuroscientist that have fun learning about the processes of the brain, just watching them work would be a great school for me.

What book are you reading at the moment and why?
I am reading two books right now, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” by Oliver Sacks, an interesting account on several psychiatric disorders described in a way everyone can understand. I am reading it because it gives me new insights into how the brain works, and it’s a classic for neuroscience researchers. And “Amoris Laetitia” by Pope Francis because it gives practical lessons on how to love everyone around us and live a more fulfilling life.

What is the best part about working in research?
Workshop_Zagreb_20160419_2The best part of working in research is the never ending ability to wonder. Discovering the beauty of things and the logical answer to why a phenomenon occurs, which was not known before and makes complete sense, that “aha” moment is incredible!

And the most challenging part about working in research?
I would say that the most challenging part of working in research today is getting the whole picture. At least in the field of biology, we go very deep on a specific receptor or molecule but we sometimes forget that it is only one bit of an enormous picture. It takes a lot of effort to see the whole picture, it is easier to focus just on a picometer of it but then it does not reflect the whole reality. I must admit it is sometimes easy to feel demoralized when there are so many articles on the same field of research and each only adds just a little of knowledge…



*Answers edited for length and clarity

Mendeley welcomes the SSRN Community!


Mendeley is excited and pleased to welcome members of the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) to our community! Elsevier, our parent company, today announced the acquisition of SSRN, meaning the users of SSRN will have access to the technology and collaborative tools of Mendeley.

We at Mendeley think this is a perfect match. As you know, Mendeley is all about “changing the way we do research.” SSRN, a scholarly research preprint repository and online community, believes in providing “tomorrow’s research today.” Together, it is yet another step towards creating the research future, with more global collaboration and a greater range of scholarly knowledge.

While Mendeley is a research platform for all disciplines, it is no secret we were founded by three PhDs in the so-called “hard sciences.” Meanwhile, SSRN has been attentive to the unique needs of the social sciences community, a place where research is often done with smaller collaborative groups and reliance on hypotheses and networks is often a key building block to research.

SSRN CEO Gregg Gordon (center) with Mendeley co-founders Jan Reichelt and Paul Foeckler at Mendeley headquarters in London.

This aspect will stay the same at SSRN, but with the added bonus of Mendeley’s technology platform, our collaboration network, and other library and reference management tools. SSRN users will also be able to create Mendeley profiles, with all the benefits of network communications and “follow” capabilities.

For Mendeley, this brings the robust community SSRN has built into the fold, plus the opportunity for enhanced author relationships and provides access to a leading resource for content.

“Together, SSRN and Mendeley can provide greater access to the growing base of user-generated content, build new informational and analytical tools and increase engagement with a broader set of researchers,” said Gregg Gordon, President and CEO of SSRN. Read the full article from Gordon on Elsevier Connect.

“SSRN has established a solid network in Social Science domains, sharing working papers and showcasing researchers and institutions,” said Jan Reichelt, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Mendeley. “Together we can provide greater access to a growing user-generated content base on which we can build new tools and increase engagement between researchers and their papers. We intend to scale and maximize SSRN in ways that benefit authors, institutions and the entire scientific ecosystem.”

We look forward to working with SSRN and all the SSRN community members!

News on your Mendeley Newsfeed

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 09.33.08

Two months ago we launched the new look and feel for Mendeley newsfeed. The response has been really positive. Thank you for all of the survey responses and feedback —85% of you said you liked the new newsfeed so that was great news for us! We’ve been amazed at the great ideas and thoughts for what you’d like to see on the newsfeed – please keep them coming!

We’ve been squirrelled away at Mendeley HQ working on new ways for you to use the new feed to find new content and further your research.

What’s new
You can now comment on news items in your feed, so if you see someone has a new publication or has moved institution, you can congratulate them or ask them a question. Comments can be edited or deleted if you make an error, and you’ll see other people’s commenting on items in your newsfeed. We’ve also built ‘likes’ so if you’re too busy in the lab to write a detailed comment, you can show your appreciation with a single click.

You might also have noticed the brand shiny new bell in the top navigation bar that will tell you when your news is liked or commented on, or if you’ve made a comment and someone replies.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 09.30.47

There have also been some changes in the content that appears in your newsfeeds. We’ve built a people recommender to help you discover interesting people to connect with on Mendeley.

We’ve decided to add these features because we know that building connections and collaborating with other researchers is a crucial part of your work. We want to bring relevant discussions and interactions directly into your newsfeeds so that you’re always the first to know what is happening in your field!

So what’s next?

Well, we’re working on ways to make the newsfeed easier to use if you’re new to Mendeley and also to fill it with even more interesting content. The number one requested feature in the survey was “updates when a document in my library is cited, highlighted or read” so that’s something we’ve pushed up the backlog… watch this space!

What this does also mean is that we’ll be bidding farewell to the old dashboard so if you try to access it you’ll be redirected to the new newsfeed. We know that some of you might miss some group updates — so do we! — but we’ve made all of our changes to newsfeed using a new technology which is more flexible for the future. Although it doesn’t yet integrate with groups, will mean that we can add other exciting updates such as the ones requested in the survey. We are of course keeping group updates on the backlog and will be returning to them in the future.

Let us know what you think!

We will keep you informed of changes here in our blog, but we’d love to hear your feedback. Comment below, or take our (quick) survey on newsfeed — your answers will help shape the future of Newsfeed.

How new technology can create a healthier public: Bridging Science and Policy

communication technologies

Our Mendeley Advisors are one of the groups continuing to participate in the global conversation launched by Atomium — The European Institute for Science, Media, and Democracy — on increasing collaboration and cooperation between policy makers, scientists and other people.

This week we are featuring an essay by Angelo Basteris, a postdoc at Griffith University in Australia, and a Mendeley Advisor, on this week’s topic: New Technologies and Innovation.

You can also participate in this conversation by filling out weekly questionnaires on chronic disease at the REISearch forums.


What would you do if you had a stroke? I’d be playing with my smartphone

Have you ever thought “What would I do if I had a stroke?”. I have, quite often. Perhaps because I worked on a project for letting people with chronic stroke do rehabilitation while playing videogames, at home, with a robotic glove [1].

Our group was not the first to design robots for rehabilitation: thousands of researchers have been working on rehabilitation robotics, for at least thirty years [2]. Robots can help the rehabilitation of several diseases such as stroke[3], multiple sclerosis[4], and Parkinson’s Disease[5].

Very likely, you have a facility administering robot-therapy in your city, or in the head city of your region. And if I had a stroke (or if in general I needed rehabilitation), I would definitely try to visit one of these.

Unfortunately, we know that “robots work well only for some people” – and if you are among those who need treatment, I hope it works for you. We also know that not many people can buy a robot for rehabilitation, because of the high costs.

The good news is that you may not need a robot for rehabilitation. While robots are enabling those people with a severe impairment to exercise by providing “extra force” to their bodies, we can do much for our health with other technologies.

A very rapidly growing sector, the industry of smartphones and wearable devices, represents a goldmine for health in general. You can have your sleep monitored by your smartphone, have it checking how far you walk (and warning you if you’re being lazy!) – even on the basic models. Forone or two hundred dollars more you can have your heart rate monitored by a wristband connected to the phone.

A famous slogan was “there’s an app for that” – it’s time for an update to: “there are many apps for that.” This is true even if you are after something more specific, like a pill reminder, something to help you cope with pain, or you want to try a geeky way to quit smoking. Don’t you trust me? Just search some of these terms on your app store.

We do not know yet which of these work and which do not, nor what for. So when you find that something works (or doesn’t work for you), try to share your findings. And look for a different solution, which will hopefully work better.

[1] S. M. Nijenhuis, G. B. Prange, F. Amirabdollahian, P. Sale, F. Infarinato, N. Nasr, G. Mountain,
H. J. Hermens, A. H. A. Stienen, J. H. Buurke, and J. S. Rietman, “Feasibility study into self-
administered training at home using an arm and hand device with motivational gaming
environment in chronic stroke,” J. Neuroeng. Rehabil., vol. 12, no. 1, p. 89, Oct. 2015.
[2] A. Basteris, S. M. Nijenhuis, A. H. Stienen, J. H. Buurke, G. B. Prange, and F. Amirabdollahian,
“Training modalities in robot-mediated upper limb rehabilitation in stroke: a framework for
classification based on a systematic review.,” J. Neuroeng. Rehabil., vol. 11, no. 1, p. 111,
[3] N. Norouzi-Gheidari, P. S. Archambault, and J. Fung, “Effects of robot-assisted therapy on
stroke rehabilitation in upper limbs: systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature.,” J.
Rehabil. Res. Dev., vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 479–96, Jan. 2012.
[4] I. Lamers, A. Maris, D. Severijns, W. Dielkens, S. Geurts, B. Van Wijmeersch, and P. Feys,
“Upper Limb Rehabilitation in People With Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review.,”
Neurorehabil. Neural Repair, Jan. 2016.
[5] A. Picelli, S. Tamburin, M. Passuello, A. Waldner, and N. Smania, “Robot-assisted arm training
in patients with Parkinson’s disease: a pilot study.,” J. Neuroeng. Rehabil., vol. 11, p. 28, Jan.

You can also participate in this conversation by filling out weekly questionnaires on chronic disease at the REISearch forums.


Previous week’s essays
“Prevention is the Better Cure”