Discussing the Future of Recommender Systems at RecSys2014

Maya and Kris from the Mendeley Data Science team have just returned from RecSys2014, the most important conference in the Recommender System world. RecSys is remarkable in that it attracts an equal number of participants from industry and academia, many of whom are at the forefront of innovation in their fields.

The team had a chance to exchange perspectives and experiences with various researchers, scholars and practitioners.

“To me, it was encouraging to see how top companies across the world are investing in recommenders, as they are shown to enhance customer satisfaction and bring real value to both users and companies,” says Mendeley Senior Data Scientist Maya Hristakeva. “LinkedIn reported that 50% of the connections made in their social network come from their follower recommender, while Netflix says that if they can stop 1% of users from cancelling their subscription then that’s worth $500M a year, which of course justifies the fact they are investing $150M/year in their content recommendation team, consisting of 300 people.”

But one of the advantages of such a hybrid event is that it did not shy away from addressing the broader issues, such as how to ward against creating a “filter bubble” effect, how to preserve user’s privacy, and optimising systems for what really matters (and how this can be effectively defined). Daniel Tunkelang, LinkedIn, and Xavier Amatriain, Netflix, moderated a panel on “Controversial Questions About Personalization“, tackling some of these topics head on. Hector Garcia Molina from Stanford University also put forward the view that we’ll increasingly see a convergence of recommendations, search and advertising, despite noticeable scepticism from the attendees.

Kris Jack, Chief Data Scientist at Mendeley, says one of the main messages that he took away from the conference was the importance of winning a user’s trust in the early stages of using a recommender system.

“The best systems have been shown to start off by providing recommendations that can quickly be evaluated by users as being useful before gradually introducing more novel recommendations. So in the case of helping researchers to find relevant articles to read, it’s probably best to start by recommending well known but important articles in their field, before recommending some less well known but very pertinent articles to their specific problem domain.” explains Kris. “Other important factors include reranking (the order in which recommendations should be shown), the UI design that can best support interaction with the recommender system, and the ways in which we can build context-aware recommendations.”

What do you think of the current recommendation features on Mendeley? Are there any particular ones that you’d like to see implemented? Would you like to join the team and work on making them even better? Let us know in the comments below, or Tweet the team directly @_krisjack @mayahhf and @Phil_Gooch .If you’re interested in finding out more about what the Data Science Team is developing in that arena, you can also watch their Mendeley Open Day presentation here.



Mendeley Open Day 2013

Mendeley Cup

Here at Mendeley we’re always keen to talk to our community, get to know our users, and listen to their feedback so we can help make researcher’s lives easier. With that in mind we thought it would be great to open the doors of our London HQ to as many of you as we could comfortably and safely fit in for a day of activities and workshops, and (why not?) fun.

Apart from some top-secret entertainment involving Lego, post-it notes and maybe even some dressing up, there will be sneak previews and testing of new features, open forums with the Mendeley and Elsevier teams, and a chance to meet some of the 3rd party developers of apps like PLASMID.IO and Labfolder, who have used the Mendeley Open API to build some very cool tools for researchers.

We also know that many of you had some questions following Mendeley’s acquisition by Elsevier in April, so this is an opportunity to get to know some of the key people at Elsevier who are collaborating with us now, and to ask them those questions directly.

Unfortunately, our office is not that big, so we can only invite a few people. However, we do want to include everyone who wants to take part, and luckily we can do that through the magic of Social Media.

Our community and product teams will join the founders in talking about what the future looks like for Mendeley, but also, most importantly, to listen to you and answer your questions. So please don’t be shy and reach out via our Facebook page or Tweet using the hashtag #Mendeley on Tuesday the 12th June. You can ask questions and comment throughout the day, but there will also be an opportunity have a chat on Twitter with Mendeley’s Head of Community Outreach William Gunn (@mrgunn) and Director of Universal Access at Elsevier Alicia Wise (@wisealic).

If you are in London and would like to attend the event in person please register your interest here. If we can’t invite you this time around, we’ll definitely keep you in mind for future events!

So please put the date in your diary: Wednesday June 12th, from

11:30 – 17:30 London time

04:30 – 10:30 US West Coast

 Even if you can’t participate on the day, please post your questions and suggestions on the comments section below, Facebook, Twitter (#Mendeley), or email the community team. This is all about you so we’d love to hear your thoughts. There will also be a video showing you what we got up to on our YouTube channel and a roundup of the day’s highlights on this blog.

You can also read about the event on the Elsevier Connect website.

See you there!

The Mendeley Team