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:
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?
We’re really happy to share the news that from now on Mendeley will be actively supporting the Research4Life partnership and helping to disseminate cutting-edge scientific information to researchers in over 100 developing countries.
It’s one of the many initiatives already supported by Elsevier that helps researchers get access to the information they need in places where resources are often scarce or problematic to get to. There are currently over 40,000 peer-reviewed resources made available to them through Research4Life, and as a founding partner, Elsevier contributed a quarter of those through Scopus and Science Direct, including about 3,000 journals and 12,000 books.
These resources are really crucial in enabling researchers to carry out their work in developing countries, and in 2013 there were over 3 million article downloads from Science Direct alone. Since Mendeley was acquired by Elsevier last year, we’ve been excited about the possibility of getting involved in such projects, as they tie into Mendeley’s original vision of making science more open and broadening access to scientific content where it can make a real difference to people’s lives.
Since first launching in 2001, the program has expanded to 4 targeted areas, supporting crucial research into Health (HINARI), Agriculture (AGORA), the Environment (OARE) and Development and Innovation (ARDI), and Elsevier has committed to providing the programme with free or low-cost access to this content until at least 2020. In addition, they also provide strategic, technical and communication expertise that helps advance Research4Life. For example, the Elsevier Foundation’s Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries Program gives grants for programs that build the infrastructure, improve information literacy, and provide training to further the use of Research4Life content.
And that’s where Mendeley comes in, because we’re providing all those researchers with a cloud-based, open and easily accessible tool to not only manage all those resources, but also to communicate and share insights and valuable information with other scientists all over the world. Mendeley already has over 160,000 users in Research4Life countries, and more than 100 of our advisors help to train, educate, and increase awareness about how researchers can use Mendeley to facilitate and advance their work. A big part of Mendeley’s involvement in the project will be to celebrate and promote those stories of success and collaboration to the wider Mendeley community and connect researchers who might be working on the same problems in different parts of the world.
“So far researchers on the program have been using patchy solutions involving various workflow and citation management tools, but these are often expensive, and if you’re trying to collaborate on a joint project with a researcher who does not have the same tool, that can be really problematic,” says Jan Reichelt, Co-founder and President of Mendeley. “So we’re hoping that Mendeley, with its vast community of over 3 million researchers worldwide, will help to really facilitate and accelerate the pace of discovery for Research4Life Scientists.”
Are you a researcher benefitting from the Research4Life program? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this and other similar initiatives. Get in touch by leaving a comment below or join the Mendeley Research4Life group!
We had another first in the history of Mendeley this year: a Mendeley book! Mendeley Advisor Jacques Raubenheimer wrote a user guide to Mendeley, which he said grew organically out of a desire at his university for training guides to various softwares. We profiled Jacques as our February Advisor of the Month, and asked him about the book.
Why did you decide to write a book about Mendeley?
I got started using Mendeley because during my PhD I used another program that was discontinued, so I was in the market for new reference management. At the same time, I had this computer background where I was teaching people to use Mendeley, Excel, Powerpoint, and so on. So people asked me to recommend referencing software and I recommended Mendeley. And then I had to do training and needed training material, then I started writing and thought, well, there is a need for this, so write a bit more and make a book!
I have to ask, Is Mendeley so complicated you need an entire book?
Firstly, I think one of the things I notice is people try to use a software program for what they want to get done and they don’t realize what they could do with it. So yes, I don’t think the average Mendeley user needs the book but I think most Mendeley users could benefit from it because it could show them things Mendeley can do that they might not have been aware of.
How did you end up working with members of the Mendeley team?
When I started doing the training, I saw the Mendeley Advisor Program and I realized it would help me with doing the training. So I registered as an Advisor and started using the Advisor Forum, and a lot of the development team is actually active there. Here and there I had questions and I took the liberty of asking them questions. I haven’t had privy information, so there might be some inaccuracies in the book, that’s my own responsibility, but they’ve been helpful if I ask or send a question, which is great.
What would you change about Mendeley?
Well, read the book, I have a list of recommendations (laughs). For me, the big thing I would for Mendeley to do, and I think they’re working on this, is to clean up the research library, there are a lot of duplicates. And then of course, though it doesn’t apply to me, a lot of Mendeley users are asking for the Android version, and I know they are working on that.
Where can I get the book?
Amazon is the main seller. In South Africa it is in other stores, but it is on all local Amazon bookstores, such as Amazon.fr, Amazon.au
So what’s next?
The big challenge is to try and get the book on the Kindle which is not that simple. If it was just a text book I could’ve done it already but there are a lot of graphics and they don’t render so well on the Kindle. And then the Mendeley team is keeping me busy, because, since the book has come out, a new version of Mendeley has been released, so my hope is to incorporate those changes and maybe have a second edition next year.
You might remember that a while ago we told you about a great project called Yale iGEM that was using Mendeley to make it easier for the research team to collaborate on their synthetic biology project. 6 months later, they sent us an update on how things are going:
By Edward Kong
Yale iGEM is a team of undergraduates who research synthetic biology and participate in the annual iGEM (international genetically engineered machines) competition.
Synthetic biology is an emerging field that focuses on not only the study of natural biological systems, but the design of new systems. From glow-in-the-dark bacteria to fuel-producing cyanobacteria, synthetic biology has a wide range of applications that can be used to better our world.
This year, our team engineered a common bacteria to produce polylactic acid (PLA), a biopolymer that is cheaper, cleaner to make, and biodegradable. Our project won a silver medal at the iGEM North American Regional Jamboree and advanced to the World Competition at MIT. Although our team did not place in any of the prize categories, we had a fantastic year, and hope to use the judging feedback to develop an even stronger project in 2014.
Our team found Mendeley’s combination of e-mail, cloud drive, and reference management to be highly useful. In addition, because some members of our team pursue summer opportunities around the world, Mendeley’s collaborative workspace was critical in enabling our teammates to connect and move the project forward.
We have recently added a talented cohort of new members for 2014, and hope to continue using Mendeley as we formulate a new project. We are grateful for the support and look forward to posting the outcomes of our new research!
This was a year of great change at Mendeley, with lots of news, exciting developments and, of course, tons of fun at Mendeley HQ. Here are a few of the many highlights:
In January, the Mendeley founders Jan, Paul, and Victor were voted “Best Startup Founders” at the Europas, considered the Oscars of the European Tech scene. This was the second win for Mendeley, which scooped up the prize for “Best Social Innovation Which Benefits Society” in 2009.
In February, we listened to your comments and released Mendeley Desktop v1.8, with expanded offerings and bug fixes.
April brought a lot of attention as Mendeley joined Elsevier. We’re proud to have honoured our promise that the merger would mean very little change for our users, beyond some positive resources…like the doubling of storage space that immediately followed the announcement.
Our Mendeley team participates in monthly hack days. In June, two of our team came up with a cool video that shows Mendeley Desktop Syncs mapped globally. There is something hypnotically beautiful about that video.
Also in June, we opened our doors and invited our Advisors and users to join us at Mendeley HQ . The day had sneak previews and testing of new features and one-on-one chance to talk to the teams at Mendeley and Elsevier…we also managed to squeeze in some fun with Lego playtime, Post-it note fun and loads and loads of food. We hope to do it again in 2014 and see you all there! Check our YouTube video for a quick review of the day.
With the start of the academic year in September, we were proud to announce your ability to take Mendeley on the go and introduced our Mendeley for iOS app. (Android users, don’t despair, it is high on our priority list).
We participated in October’s Social Media week in London and hosted an event in conjunction with this year’s theme “Open & Connected.” Missed the presentations? Watch them here.
Mendeley was also involved in a number of partnerships and expanded external apps that we support. To name a few (but certainly not all): F1000 Partnership, ScienceDirect import capabilities, Third-party developer apps (To learn more about creating your own App, visit our Mendeley Developers Portal) and our latest…Mendeley users can now import directly from Scopus.
And this month, we’ve been preparing our product development roadmap. What does that mean? Stay tuned!
Thank you for a wonderful 2013. Happy wishes for the New Year and here’s to making 2014 even better.
On Twitter, with typical understatement, it was compared to the Rebel Alliance joining the Galactic Empire, to peasants posing as a human shield for Kim Jong-Un, and to Austin Powers teaming up with Dr Evil.
It’s true that, when I was 13, I played through X-Wingon my Amstrad 486 PC, then had fun playing an Empire pilot in the TIE Fightersequel — and I’m also half Korean. So while my colleagues are busy mounting the frickin’ laser beams onto the heads of the sharks we brought in to replace our foosball table, I thought I would address some of the other concerns and questions that were raised.
What is the “real” reason for Elsevier acquiring Mendeley?
The question that emerged most frequently, sometimes in the tone of conspiratorial whispers, was about the “real” reason Elsevier acquired Mendeley. Surely there must be a man behind the curtain with a devious masterplan? Not quite. In my mind, it’s straightforward: Elsevier is in the business of providing scientific information to the academic community. In order to serve academics better, it acquired one of the best tools for managing and sharing scientific information. Elsevier can now provide its customers with solutions along the entire academic workflow: Content discovery & access, knowledge management & collaboration, and publication & dissemination. Mendeley provides the missing link in the middle, and brings Elsevier closer to its customers. This makes intuitive sense to me, and I hope you can see the rationale, too.
But what will Elsevier do with Mendeley’s data?
Some people voiced concerns that Elsevier wanted Mendeley’s data to clamp down on sharing or collaboration, sell the data on in a way that infringes our users’ privacy, or use it against them somehow. We will not do any of those things. Since the announcement, we have already upgraded our Mendeley Advisors to free Team Accounts, and are currently reviewing how we can make collaboration and sharing easier for everyone on Mendeley. Also, I want to be clear that we would never pass on our users’ personal data to third parties, or enable third parties to use our users’ data against them.
Of course, Mendeley’s data does have commercial value. Even before the Elsevier acquisition, Mendeley was “selling user data” — but in an aggregate, anonymized fashion – to university libraries: The Mendeley Institutional Edition (MIE) dashboard contains non-personal information about which journals are being read the most by an institution’s faculty and students. Librarians use this information to make better journal subscription decisions on behalf of their researchers, and more than 20 leading research institutions in North America, Europe, and Asia have signed up since its launch last summer.
Mendeley’s Open API also offers aggregate, anonymized usage data, though on a global rather than institutional basis. Mendeley gives this data away for free under a Creative Commons CC-BY license. It’s being used by tools like ImpactStory.org or Altmetrics.com, which are building business models around altmetrics data. Again, you could argue that Mendeley’s usage data is being “sold”, and even sold by third parties. However, as you can see, the general principle is that the data is used only for positive purposes, like analyzing research trends and scholarly impact, without violating the privacy of Mendeley users. That’s how we will keep it in the future, and this applies to any usage of the data by Elsevier or via our Open API.
So how will Elsevier make money off Mendeley?
The existing Mendeley offering will continue to be free, so that we can continue to grow our user base as we have in the past, and we will also integrate Mendeley into Elsevier’s existing offerings like ScienceDirect or Scopus to increase their value. This actually means that we’re now under less short term pressure to monetize Mendeley’s individual users. When we were an independent start-up, we had to think about charging for every new or additional feature, in order to get to break even. Now, we can think more about the long term again.
For example, this enabled us to double our users’ storage space for free immediately after the Elsevier announcement. We had previously also planned to make the sync of highlights & annotations in our forthcoming new iOS app a premium feature – today, we decided instead that it will be free for all users, and thus also free for all third-party app developers to implement. And, as mentioned above, we are currently reviewing our collaboration features to see if we can expand them for free, too.
Lastly, what does your new role in the strategy team at Elsevier mean in practice?
Along with the Elsevier news last week, it was announced that I would – in addition to my role at Mendeley – be joining the Elsevier strategy team as a VP of Strategy. A number of our users and Mendeley Advisors have asked what this will mean in practice, and how my input would be taken onboard.
I’ve been in Amsterdam this week to meet some of my new colleagues and exchange ideas — it’s been genuinely enjoyable and inspiring, so we’re off to a very promising start. I’ve been asked to support them in sharing not just Mendeley’s features, but also Mendeley’s experiences and user-centric values with the Elsevier organization, and to keep pushing the ideas that have made Mendeley successful. Conversely, I will also work on how to best bring Elsevier’s tools, data, and content onto the Mendeley development roadmap and into our users’ daily workflow.
We’re not short of amazing ideas, and you have shared some really exciting suggestions with us as well – the challenge will be to pick the best ones and actually get them done. As always, we will be listening closely to your feedback on how to improve our products and set our development roadmap. Watch this space!
Academia has a reputation for being a bit of a closed world, a walled garden of knowledge where secrets are jealously guarded. But the truth is that collaboration is at the very heart of research and scientific discovery, and that for science to advance, researchers need to get together, compare notes, disagree, and have their ideas challenged and built upon by others. Often this happens naturally – like in the cafeteria where PhD students will chat about their projects – but in such a hyper-specialized environment, chances are that people who share your particular research interests cannot be found in the same institution or even the same country. What then?
In the same way that social media has revolutionised personal and professional communication and created dynamic global conversations, platforms like Mendeley now bring academics together in groups formed around those research interests, and the implications of that are tremendous for making science more open and accelerating the pace of discovery.This is why the team here at Mendeley is particularly interested in gaining genuine, real-time insight into research collaboration.
Mendeley is involved in several research projects. Particularly fruitful has been an on-going exchange of researchers and Mendeley staff between our London HQ and the Know-Center at Graz University of Technology in Austria. All projects aim to contribute to the improved use of the wealth of Mendeley data for the benefit of our users and the scientific community in general.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, this recent investigation of research collaboration started as a Hack Day project between Mendeley staff and a visiting researcher from the Know-Center/TU Graz in the context of the TEAM project (http://team-project.tugraz.at) which is coordinated by the Knowledge Management Institute of the TU Graz. Sebastian Pöhlmann (Insights and Analytics Manager) and Piotr Drozd (Community and Business Intelligence Analyst) teamed up with Peter Kraker (PhD student, Know-Center/TU Graz) to visualise cross-country collaboration on the Mendeley platform.
An interactive map has been created that aims to shed some light into the intensity of international research collaboration across different countries. Considering that using Mendeley groups is optional for our users, we are excited to have data on 113 countries. For each of those we show the continent, the rank by user count, the number of connected countries and the proportion of foreign (= international) connections.
By browsing the map or making a selection from the list, you can visualise the connections between researchers for any given country. A connection between two countries is established if at least one of each country’s researchers are members of the same Mendeley group. Of the over 200,000 research groups on Mendeley, we’ve selected private groups with at least two members, as that tends to be the most collaborative group type. Our staff is also very active on the platform so we’ve further excluded groups owned by Mendeley staff and connections where Mendeley staff are involved. We have further excluded countries with less than 10 total connections.
Browsing the map and the data has produced some interesting insights:
Among BRICS countries, China, India and Russia have a high proportion of international connections whereas Brazil and South Africa seem somewhat more internally focused
Generally speaking, North America, Europe, and Australia are very well connected, whereas Asia and South America are somewhat lagging behind.
This is early days, but we hope that by learning more about how our users collaborate with each other, we can continue to develop the best tools to help them work even more efficiently. And by sharing some of the insights on Mendeley Labs we want to contribute our part of the picture to the general knowledge of how research works.
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. What does collaboration mean to you and how would you go about measuring and visualizing it?
I recently had the chance to sit down with Barry Bunin to talk about his new drug discovery platform, Collaborative Drug Discovery. As you may guess from the title, he’s taking a novel approach to drug discovery. Modern drug discovery faces huge challenges due to the economic inefficiency of the process where hundreds of millions of dollars must be spent to discover one new drug. The current model also makes it difficult to capitalize on all the interesting but not immediately drug-relevant data that’s generated in the process. CDD’s approach promotes collaboration as opposed to the traditional approach where different teams at different companies repeat much of the same work and suggests that companies will actually share information that leads to a mutual benefit, provided there’s a easy and secure way to do so. I’m delighted to share this interview with you of yet another company showing how openness and collaboration works for business.Read More »
At Mendeley, we’re all about easy collaboration in the cloud, so of course we’re delighted that Hojoki has added us as an activity source. Hojoki lets you see all the activity from all your cloud apps in one shared stream, and share filtered subsets of those activities with colleagues & co-workers. It’s a great way to keep on top of what everyone is doing without having to separately watch Dropbox, Google Docs, Evernote, Github, and your various Mendeley group activity feeds. It was actually silly fun watching the live feed, too. As people went about their daily work editing documents and scheduling appointments in folders and calendars I’m subscribed to, they showed up in in nearly real-time on my Hojoki feed.
To celebrate the addition of Mendeley (beta only for now), we’re doing a t-shirt giveaway of these awesome shirts featuring the Hojoki robot and Mendeley. Watch #mendeley for your chance to win one & if you haven’t tried Hojoki yet, give it a try.
The “social web” has become the nexus of collaboration and discovery, but how supportive are the existing tools at making leads to scientific discovery? Mendeley co-founder, Jan Reichelt, will show Mendeley’s approach to connecting scholars with information and, by doing so, unlocking it. Mendeley is one of the world’s largest research collaboration platforms, with 750,000 researchers and academics and 65 million research papers indexed in Mendeley’s public research catalog.
Audience members can participate by submitting their questions during the webcast.