Mendeley’s vision for supporting researchers

Gaby-Appleton-at-MendeleyGaby Appleton is the Managing Director for Mendeley and Researcher Products at Elsevier. She leads an expert product management team in a mission to support millions of researchers with better digital information systems. The aim is to help them have more impact with their work and effectively demonstrate that impact, to stay up to date, to organize and share their knowledge, and to advance their career. She brings over 15 years’ experience to her role along with a passion for the world of research. We met with her to discuss the development vision for Mendeley.

Thank you for taking the time to discuss the development vision for Mendeley. How would you define that vision?

Our vision for Mendeley and indeed for all the Elsevier solutions is to contribute to improving the information system that supports research — an ecosystem of tools and data that addresses real challenges in researchers’ daily reality.

What informs that vision?

Above all, it’s informed by conversations with researchers, which is something I spend a lot of time on. Not that it is a hardship! Spending time with them is truly one of the highlights of my job. Hearing about ground-breaking research from people who are so enthusiastic about what they’re doing is inspirational.

But it’s also essential. The Mendeley team that is responsible for defining our vision needs that open, honest contact with researchers.

Why are those conversations so important?

Because our development strategy has to focus on the problems we can solve for users. If we were doing something because it was exciting technologically but it didn’t address real challenges, then we’d be completely missing the point. We need to ground our development in researchers’ needs.

That’s why we start by listening to gain insight into their challenges, then look at what the technology can do, and finally design solutions to those challenges.

What is the vision for Mendeley’s development that has come out of conversations with researchers?

Based on all the challenges researchers have talked about, we’ve adopted four principles to guide our development strategy: source neutrality, interoperability, transparency, and user control.

Source neutrality means that researchers can use this information system to retrieve, store and disseminate information regardless of the publisher. An unbiased view is the essence of good research and we want to ensure that our platforms and tools are open to content beyond Elsevier’s. Mendeley users can receive recommendations on what to read next (Mendeley Suggest) based on what they’ve already added to their library, and funders-imagethese recommendations are not limited to Elsevier – they can be from any publisher. And we don’t restrict that to papers. Researchers have talked about challenges with staying abreast of funding opportunities, so we’ve worked to provide one of the largest aggregations of funding information, maintaining source neutrality and transparency. The same applies to career postings.

Interoperability is about ensuring that applications, tools and data sets from different providers can work together. The Mendeley API represents our commitment to interoperability with any tools that researchers need.

Transparency is vital to researchers. If they receive an alert or recommendation, they need to know what prompted it. Otherwise, they can’t know if it’s relevant without spending time assessing it. If they are looking at search results, it’s great if they can see how their search string relates to those results. That helps with filtering and refining the hit set. An example of how we maintain transparency is in the functioning of Mendeley Suggest. It makes recommendations for further reading based on what a user and their colleagues are reading, but crucially, it includes information about why that article is relevant.

Control is all about giving researchers control of their own data, where it’s shared and how it’s used by the system. If they don’t want their data to be visible beyond a select group of users, or they don’t want their behavior to provoke recommendations, they should be able to opt out of those features. User control is all about making it easy for an individual to find the settings for preferences. A good example in our system is Mendeley Data, which makes it easy for users to define exactly who sees their data. Similarly, the organization, privacy and recommendation settings of researchers’ reference manager library are easy to control. What displays in a Mendeley Profile is entirely at the user’s discretion.

That’s where our development team constantly strives to take Mendeley: to keep it open to content from any source; to make sure its application programming interface is compatible with multiple tools and platforms; to give users insight into how its features make recommendations; and to ensure that it’s easy for users to set their preferences.

You’re currently developing a new reference manager, now available in BETA, which is a completely re-platformed and updated version of Mendeley’s core reference management function. How does it align with this vision for Mendeley?

I’ll leave it to my colleague Laura Thomson, our Head of Reference Management, to talk about the new Mendeley Reference Manager in more detail in her upcoming interview. Briefly, reference management tools are what we’re best known for. Mendeley Desktop is now ten years old and, while it’s developed incrementally over that time, to really act on users’ feedback and make some big improvements, we felt we needed to take a new RNS_963_a.General version image (2)approach and take advantage of new technologies that have become available since the original Mendeley Desktop was built.

The new Mendeley Reference Manager remains free-to-use and publisher agnostic. The Mendeley API remains open, allowing researchers and developers to create interoperability with multiple tools. We’ve ensured that the settings for the library, recommendations and so on are transparent and in researchers’ control. It’s unique in satisfying those four aspects of the vision for an information system supporting research.

Every aspect of Mendeley follows the same principles and is informed by real-world conversations: from reference management through data sharing to showcasing impact.

We would never pretend that we have all the answers, but we listen. We’ll continue to communicate with researchers as we work on each application of Mendeley. Our goal at Elsevier is an information system that supports research, and Mendeley aims to remain a core part of that.

Thank you very much for your time.

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Find out more about all-things Mendeley here

Find out more about the information system supporting research here 

Ask science anything with #MendeleyWall @ New Scientist Live 22-25th September

If I could ask science anything…

Mendeley is inviting attendees of New Scientist Live to ask our community, and the wider scientific world, all their deep burning questions about science! Mendeley’s mission is to help researchers showcase their work to the world and this is a great opportunity to connect researchers and experts with the general public.

We’ll be collecting people’s questions through the medium of a message wall and Tweeting questions to our 15,000 followers using #MendeleyWall during the whole New Scientist Live event (22th – 25th September).

We’re at stand number 1224 near the Brains & Body demonstration area, so if you are attending come and say hi!

Besides the Great Mendeley Wall, our stand will feature hands-on science and technology activities. All the activities follow our Mendeley Hack Day idea in that they are reproducible and accessible to DIY.

Learn how to build a smartphone microscope, see and feel microscopic objects made tangible by our 3D printer, try some coding projects, and learn more about Citizen Science and how you can get involved with research!

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We invite you, to use us as conduit for connecting with the New Scientist Live audience (an expected 25,000 attendees) by helping answer #MendeleyWall questions via Twitter, and hopefully inspiring people to walk away with a newly-ignited passion for science. We’ll be aligning topics with the New Scientist Live core themes, so expect questions on Earth, Cosmos, Technology, and Brain & Body.

To find out more about the #MendeleyWall and how you can get involved please feel free to reach out to jonathan.beyer@mendeley.com to discuss, please keep an eye on #MendeleyWall during the show and jump in if you see a question that you can answer!

Or if you have any questions you’d like answered comment down below.

There are still discount tickets available for the event here.

Follow us on social media to keep up to date
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"Follow your passion and your curiosity" – Meet Dr Sarah Noble, Planetary Geologist at NASA

NASA_logoIn July, some of us Mendeleyans had the amazing privilege to fly over to Washington to visit the NASA HQ for the New Horizons Pluto Flyby. During our trip, we had the chance to meet some of NASA’s scientists, one of whom is planetary geologist and a program scientist Sarah Noble. Sarah’s specific interested are in space weathering on environments such as the Moon, Mercury, and asteroids.

We recently got in contact with Sarah again, to speak with her about being a women in planetary geology.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a program scientist at NASA Headquarters. In my job I have two main hats to wear, grants management and mission work. I manage several Research and Analysis (R&A) programs for the planetary science division, making sure that we find and fund the best planetary research. I also serve as a program scientist on missions, like the recent LADEE mission to the Moon, and I’m currently the Deputy Program Scientist for our next Mars rover, Mars 2020. A program scientist serves as a sort of liaison between HQ and the science team, it’s our job to make sure that the mission actually produces good science. I also get to do a little science once in a while, my research is mostly working with Apollo samples to understand the effects of space weathering on the properties of lunar rocks and soils.

Is this what you wanted to be, when you were growing up? If not, what did you want to become?

I think I always knew that I would work for NASA, though as a kid, of course, I wanted to be an astronaut, didn’t every kid?

What is your background and how did you get to where you are now?

I started my undergrad as an aerospace engineering major (because it was the only major with the word “space” in it), but quickly realized that I was much more interested in science than engineering. I switched to geology and fell in love with it, I also minored in both political science and art, because why not? I continued on the geology path in graduate school, specializing in planetary geology. After completing my PhD, I took a year or so off from science to scratch my political science itch and went to work for Congress. As an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, I worked as a committee staffer for the Space and Aeronautics subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology. Then I went back to science, in what I like to call my “NASA-nomad phase, where in the span of a few years I worked at NASA Johnson Space Center, then NASA HQ, then NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, then NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and finally back to NASA HQ.

Apart from being a lunar/planetary, what else are you/do you do?

In my spare time, I’m an artist. My day job tends to leak over into my art, most of my paintings are of the Moon and planets – they are so beautiful and amazing that I can’t help but paint them.

What are the best and worst parts about working in planetary geology?

In planetary science, we literally get to discover new worlds. Like NASA’s New Horizons mission that flew by Pluto this summer, giving us our very first pictures, and ESA’s Rosetta mission that has brought us incredible views of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. And every time, every new world, they are more amazing and incredible than we had imagined. But it’s a two-sided coin, space is hard, and vast, so our data is always limited. It took New Horizons nine and a half years to get to Pluto (and that’s just from launch, it doesn’t include the nearly three decades of work lobbying, planning, proposing, and building to get the mission off the ground), it will be a long time before we go back.

Is there a problem attracting girls/women to planetary science?

At the graduate school level, we are doing pretty well, about 40% of planetary grad students are women. Recruiting isn’t the problem, retaining is a bigger issue. Those numbers fall off precipitously among tenured faculty and senior researchers.

Have you had any role models or mentors in your field/during your career? If so, how did they support/encourage you?

My PhD advisor, Carle Pieters, was/is an amazing mentor.  She was a women in planetary science back when there weren’t any women in planetary science.  When I was her graduate student, her door was always open and whenever I would knock on it, no matter how busy she was (and believe me, she was always busy), she would give me her full attention. No phone calls, no quick glances at her computer, her full attention, which taught me that what I had to say was important and worthwhile.

Are there any particular challenges you’ve faced as a woman in STEM?

Imposter syndrome (the feeling that you are not as smart or qualified as those around you and that one day you will be found out) is something that I have struggled with. It turns out to be quite common among scientists, particularly female scientists, and actually I have found it to be very comforting and reassuring to realize that most of the people around me are struggling with the same feelings. One thing I try to remember to do when I mentor early career scientists is to talk about my failures, not just my successes, it’s important to realize that everybody fails sometimes and it’s not the end of the world. When we only talk about our successes it makes us appear superhuman, and that can be a tough standard to compare yourself to.

What has been your best experience, as a women in STEM?

I help run the Women in Planetary Sciences event at our annual meeting, the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. I used to attend those events when I was a graduate student and it would be maybe twenty people crammed into someone hotel room swapping war stories. Now we fill up the big ballroom, well over a hundred women (and a few men) gathering to support each other and offer advice. Every year as the women are gathering, I take a minute to look around, take in the scene, and remember how far we’ve come.

Sarah Noble 4
Women’s in Planetary Science Event 2012

Is there anything you wish you’d had, to support your career path?

My career path has not been a straight line, I have stepped away from doing research, first to work for Congress, then again at HQ, and I wish there had been more people telling me that that was okay, that getting a tenure-track faculty job wasn’t the only correct path, that I wasn’t “throwing away my science career”. I have no regrets about those decisions, they were the right ones for me, and I love my job. There are lots of ways to be a scientist, and all of them are valid career choices if you end up happy and fulfilled.

Which woman in STEM, dead or alive, do you most admire, and why?

I’m a big fan of Poppy Northcutt – She was the first women engineer to work in mission control and helped to design the return-to-Earth trajectory for Apollo 8. There’s a great picture of her in mission control, fashionably dressed, tousled blond hair, sitting in the midst of a sea of men in short-sleeved white shirts with ties and horn-rimmed glasses – the unofficial uniform of Apollo. One of these things is not like the others, clearly, and yet, everything about her body language and expression says she was right where she belonged, comfortable and confident. It’s hard to be the first, the only, and I love that she didn’t shy away from her “otherness”, didn’t buy herself a white shirt and horn-rimmed glasses.

What advice and encouragement can you offer to girls wanting to enter a career in STEM?

Follow your passion and your curiosity. Science is hard, but if you love it, it’s worth it.

What is your science/tech dream?

Part of me still wants to be an astronaut, or more to the point, I want to visit the Moon, do some field geology, see the Earth rise over the horizon.

 

If you are, or know, a women in STEM who would be interested in contributing to our Women in STEM blog series, then please email us! We’d love to here your story!

New research features on Mendeley.com!

They’re here! Your new research features are now visible on Mendeley.com – check it out now!

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Feature: Suggest
Mendeley’s Data Science team have been working to crack one of the hardest “big data” problems of all: How to recommend interesting articles that users might want to read? For the past six months they have been working to integrate 6 large data sets from 3 different platforms to create the basis for a recommender system. These data sets often contain tens of millions of records each, and represent different dimensions which can all be applied to the problem of understanding what a user is looking for, and providing them with a high-quality set of recommendations.

With the (quite literally) massive base data set in place, the team then tested over 50 different recommender algorithms against a “gold standard” (which was itself revised five times for the best possible accuracy). Over 500 experiments have been done to tweak our algorithms so they can deliver the best possible recommendations. The basic principle is to combine our vast knowledge of what users are storing in their Mendeley libraries, combined with the richness of the citation graph (courtesy of Scopus), with a predictive model that can be validated against what users actually did. The end result is a tailored set of recommendations for each user who has a minimum threshold of documents in their library.

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We are happy to report that two successive rounds of qualitative user testing have indicated that 80% of our test users rated the quality of their tailored recommendations as “Very good” (43%) or “Good” (37%), which gives us confidence that the vast majority of Mendeley reference management users will receive high-quality recommendations that will save them time in discovering important papers they should be reading.

For those who are new to Mendeley, we have made it easy for you to get started and import your documents – simply drag-and-drop your papers, and get high-quality recommendations.

fine tune suggest

On our new “Suggest” page you’ll be getting improved article suggestions, driven by four different recommendation algorithms to support different scientific needs:

  • Popular in your discipline – Shows you the seminal works, for all time, in your field
  • Trending in your discipline – Shows you what articles are popular right now in your discipline
  • Based on the last document in your library – Gives you articles similar to the one you just added
  • Based on all the documents in your library – Provides the most tailored set of recommended articles by comparing the contents of your library with the contents of all other users on Mendeley.

Suggestions you receive will be frequently recalculated and tailored to you based on the contents of your library, making sure that there is always something new for you to discover. This is no insignificant task, as we are calculated over 25 million new recommendations with each iteration. This means that even if you don’t add new documents to your library, you will still get new recommendations based on the activity of other Mendeley users with libraries similar to yours.

To find your recommended articles, check out www.mendeley.com/suggest and begin the discover new papers in your field!

Feature: Stats
If you are a published author, Mendeley’s “Stats” feature provides you with a unique, aggregated view of how your published articles are performing in terms of citations, Mendeley sharing, and (depending on who your article was published with) downloads/views. You can also drill down into each of your published articles to see the statistics on each item you have published. This powerful tool allows you to see how your work is being used by the scientific community, using data from a number of sources including Mendeley, Scopus, NewsFlo, and ScienceDirect.

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Stats gives you an aggregated view on the performance of your publications, including metrics such as citations, Mendeley readership and group activity, academic discipline and status of your readers, as well as any mentions in the news media – helping you to understand and evaluate the impact of your published work. With our integration with ScienceDirect, you can find information on views (PDF and HMTL downloads), search terms used to get to your article, geographic distribution of your readership, and links to various source data providers.

Please keep in mind that Stats are only available for some published authors whose works are listed in the Scopus citation database. To find out if your articles are included, just visit www.mendeley.com/stats and begin the process of claiming your Scopus author profile. If not, please be patient as we work further on this feature.

Feature: Profile
Mendeley has restyled and simplified the profile page to make it easier to use with improved layout and visual impact. The card-based design and progress bar make updating profile fields a breeze, while the brand new publications feature allows published authors to bulk import their publications from Scopus, de-duplicate them and showcase their work in the publications section. This more comprehensive publications list can also improve the quality of the article recommendations available via Mendeley Suggest.

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Feature: Mendeley supports Elsevier sign in
If you’ve registered with another Elsevier product such as My Research Dashboard, ScienceDirect alerts or Scopus, you can now use the same username and password to sign in to Mendeley rather than registering a new account. This will save you from having to remember (yet another!) username and password, as well as giving you access to Stats based on Scopus if this information is already held in your Elsevier account.

Mendeley.com now features a new navigation, which makes it easier to move around the site and makes our Apps clearer and snappier. As always, we welcome your feedback – please comment on this post or head over to our feedback channel, and help us to improve Mendeley further.

Mendeley Celebrate New Horizons' Pluto Flyby in Washington D.C.

Mendeley DC 1

In June we announced that NASA’s Science Program Manager Adriana Ocampo had extended a very special invite for the Mendeley team to be at NASA HQ to witness the Pluto New Horizons Encounter! Naturally we were excited about this incredible opportunity… so much so that we focused four of our internal hack-days on space-themed hacks, and the hackers that received the most votes won places on the trip across the ocean (we’ll tell you all about the hacks in an upcoming blog post).

So after lots of planning and preparation, off we flew to Washington DC with 20 space enthusiasts from the Mendeley, Elsevier and Newsflo team…

NASA HQ

Upon arrival in D.C. the team was almost too excited to sleep in anticipation of the early rise for the July 14th New Horizon’s closest approach to Pluto at NASA HQ scheduled for 7.49 am (EST)!

We were struck with the real gravity of what was happening – The New Horizons mission, to the Dwarf Planet Pluto, is a pioneering feat of astronomical research that was launched back in January 2006, and this would be the first time ever that we’d be able to see properly see Pluto – and we were there to witness the final arrival at this far distant world.

“We don’t know exactly what we’ll see, but we know from decades of experience in first-time exploration of new planets that we will be very surprised” – Ralph McNutt, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).

We waited patiently in the auditorium until the countdown began… 10… 9… 8… after 9.5 years, a total of 3463 days of traveling up to 47,000 mph for more than 3 billion miles, New Horizons was finally making it’s Pluto Flyby… 3… 2… 1… 0!!!!

After the excitement died down, we were lucky to be joined by two NASA staff – Planetary Geologist Sarah Noble and Planetary Science Division Program Officer Christina Richey. These two knowledgeable Women in STEM talked to us about the mission, answering all of our questions about New Horizons and Pluto.

During the event, we were joined in the auditorium by a class of Colombian school children who were learning about planetary science. Our Spanish speaking Software Engineer, Carles Pina, was subsequently involved in some spontaneous outreach and took the time to talk to the school group about programming and why it’s a useful skill – inspiring the next generation of Software Engineers!

We also had the privilege of interviewing Beth Beck, NASA’s Open Innovation Program Manager, about New Horizons as well as issues and solutions for women in data. You can watch the video here.

Museum

After lunch in the botanical gardens, we had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Our guide, U.S. Air Force veteran Vince, gave us a wonderfully educational guide, taking us on a journey from the first human flight attempts through the advancements in aviation, all the way to exploring the planets and human space travel.

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On Wednesday July 15th, we hosted some Mendeley events to coincide with the publication of our report “New Horizons: From research papers to Pluto“, a document examining the role of academic publishing in launching and learning from deep space missions – which is freely available to download.

In the afternoon at the Wilson Center, our NASA’s New Horizons: Innovation, Collaboration and Accomplishment in Science and Technology event was attended by more that 100 people. Here, we presented a series of lightning talks from Paul Tavner (Educational Resources Manager, Mendeley), Jan Reichelt (Co-founder and CEO, Mendeley), Beth Beck (NASA Open Innovation Program Manager, HQ Office of Chief Information Officer), William Gunn (Director of Scholarly Communications, Mendeley), Callum Anderson (Development Manager, Mendeley), Rob Knight (Software Engineer, Mendeley), Robbertjan Kalff (Social Project Manager, Mendeley), our two space hack winners George Kartvelishvili and Richard Lynne, as well as the team of Policonnect. We will be sharing the video footage of these talks with you soon on our YouTube channel! In the mean time, check out our summary video here.

Laughing Man

In the evening, we held a networking meet-up at the Laughing Man Tavern. This event gave us a chance to meet some of our dedicated Mendeley Advisors, to discuss New Horizons, research and Mendeley. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet so many.

Finally, with an invigorated enthusiasm for space science, our NASA badges, and an awesome story to tell… we packed our bags and flew back to Europe.

 

Eyes on Pluto – Now you too can journey to the outer edge of our Solar System!

It says something very deep about humans and our society, something very good about us, that we’ve invested our time and treasure in building a machine that can fly across three billion miles of space to explore the Pluto system…..” Alan Stern, Astronomer and Aeronautical Engineer quoted in Smithsonian, June 2015

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The New Horizons mission to the Dwarf Planet, Pluto, is a pioneering feat of astronomical research, resulting in almost a decade of space travel at up to 47,000 mph, culminating in the closest approach on July 14th 2015. In the run up to, and in the days after, New Horizons will carry out an astronomic schedule of research initiatives aimed at revealing the first close up view of this cold, unexplored world.

Although we’re a long way off of a human mission to Pluto, you can still check out the almost 3 billion mile journey with NASA’s Eyes on Pluto simulation!

Keep up to date with the latest from the New Horizons mission by following NASA’s blogs.

Eyes on PlutoScreen Shot 2015-06-24 at 17.40.28 is the latest simulation from the Eyes on the Solar System team who have created a series of 3D environments full of real NASA mission data. These simulations allow you to explore the whole solar system from your computer.

Another aspect of the Eyes on Pluto project, is NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory  in California. The DSN is a network of three highly sophisticated antenna arrays, stationed in three locations around the globe. These sites, distributed at roughly 120-degree intervals around Earth ensure constant contact can be maintained with objects in deep space, including the New Horizons spacecraft.

Communications received from New Horizons are sent from DSN to mission control and used to check the probe’s progress. Scientific data is then relayed on to the Science Operations Center for processing.

It’s possible to track which of three DSN sites is currently in contact with New Horizons via DSN Now.

In July, we will be publishing a summary of New Horizons research, highlighting the path from papers to Pluto – we’ll let you know when it’s out.

NASA Museum Alliance

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As the NASA Space probe, New Horizons, approaches Pluto, members of the NASA Museum Alliance are preparing to host various events to live-stream and celebrate this nine and a half year journey that culminates in a momentous Pluto Flyby!

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The Museum Alliance is a NASA-centric STEM community of science educators, museums, observatories, planetariums, science-technology centers; aquariums, arboretums, aviaries, zoos; botanical gardens, nature centers, parks, NASA Visitor Centers and affiliates, theaters and auditoriums dedicated to astronomical shows, and other non-profit informal education organizations.

There are almost 1,100 professionals at over 575 U.S. and over 60 international members in the NASA STEM Museum Alliance. These organizations regularly use NASA educational products, images, visualizations, video, and information in their educational and public programs and exhibits.

Informal education professional, are invited to register with the Museum Alliance using the Partners Application, while individuals interested in attending an event can search for their nearest Museum Alliance venue