Mendeley labs project turns heads at Webscience 2013


Head Start, a Mendeley Labs project, has been nominated for best poster by conference participants at Web Science 2013. Head Start is intended to facilitate and improve the process of literature search. The visualization aims at providing an overview of an academic field, based on Mendeley data.

You know the problem… when you’re first exploring a research area, it is very hard to get an overview of the field. First, you might enter some keywords into an academic search engine such as Google Scholar. Then, you might read through the top results and read their references, provided your institution has access or if they’re available from an open access journal. With time and patience, you build a mental model of the field. There are several drawbacks to this approach: it is very laborious and time-consuming, and it’s very hard to read papers in their order of importance or even to know if you’ve found all the most important papers.

Peter Kraker from the Know-Center at Graz University of Technology has taken on the challenge to overcome these problems. During a research stay at Mendeley for the EU project TEAM, he has developed Head Start in cooperation with the Data Science group led by Kris Jack. The application presents you with the main areas in an academic field, and lets you zoom into relevant publications within each area. This allows a researcher to do most of the exploration in a single user interface.

The overview is generated (almost) automatically using Mendeley’s data about readership of academic papers within a discipline. Readership co-occurrence is used as a measure of subject similarity. The more often two books are checked out of the library together, the more likely they’re on the same subject, and so with academic papers – the more often two papers occur in someone’s Mendeley library, the more likely they are to be on similar subjects. The documents are then grouped by subject area and displayed using D3.js, a JavaScript library for making interactive visualizations on the web, made popular by the New York Times graphics department.

Peter will present Head Start at a webinar of the Web Science Trust Laboratories. The virtual presentation will take place on Wednesday, June 12 at 16:00 London time. Attendance is free; it just needs a simple registration following this link. More information is also available from this paper.

Please check out Peter’s demo and poster and let us know what you think!

Mendeley at the London Web Summit



Last Friday, March 1st, Mendeley co-founder Jan Reichelt went to the London Web Summit to discuss what the future holds in store for Online Education. The panel, which explored the issues behind the explosion of EdTech, also included Chip Paucek (CEO of online degrees start-up 2U), Andrew Ng (Co-Founder of Coursera, a platform for universities to provide free online courses) and Memrise Co-Founder Ed Cooke

Jan talked about how Mendeley’s 2 million users contribute an enormous amount of scientific data to the platform, which then allows developers to build interesting and useful applications on its open API.

There is no doubt that web adoption is increasing, specially within education, accelerated even more by the introduction of new and improved web technologies. Andrew from Coursera, who is a professor at Stanford, told of how through his online course he now routinely reached 100,000 students where before he would be teaching 400.

The panelists agreed that availability, access to, and accreditation of high quality online learning will only increase in future; Online lectures will continue to permeate traditional learning and will free up more and more time for professors to do more interactive and one-to-one learning in class.

Enabling more effective collaboration and communication online was a key theme of the panel, and Jan explained Mendeley’s vision of building a global platform for research collaboration, and helping researcher’s workflow to speed up science.

The panel thought it was important not to focus on platforms for their own sake, but to also make sure they solve real problems and address real needs of institutions as well as individuals; schools embracing the web makes a huge difference. Businesses like 2U and Coursera exist because of their ability to partner with such institutions, and Mendeley’s Institutional Edition has been adopted by some of the world’s leading universities since its launch last year.

You can watch a video of the panel here