Supporting researchers with the new Mendeley Reference Manager

Laura ThomsonLaura Thomson, PhD, is Head of Reference Management at Mendeley. She has been with Elsevier since the start of 2015, and brings over 18 years’ experience with information products and research solutions to her role. Praised by her group for her clear vision and creative approach, she plays a key role in shaping how reference management is discussed and driven at Elsevier. With some exciting new developments happening with Mendeley’s reference management solutions, we met with her to find out more.

We recently heard from your colleague Gaby Appleton about the overall vision for Elsevier’s researcher solutions, especially Mendeley. How do Mendeley’s reference management solutions, specifically, fit within that vision?

As Gaby will have told you, the vision for Elsevier is to contribute to improving the information system supporting research. Our aim is to help researchers work even more efficiently so they can spend more time making discoveries.

That’s a statement that truly resonates with me. I started out as a biochemist and, as that career progressed, other tasks started to take over more of my time. In many ways, it stopped being fun because there was less time to do the real research.

The vision for Mendeley is to provide researchers with time-saving tools that help speed up and simplify their workflows. We want to take reference management off researchers’ minds by making all the tasks related to collecting, organizing, reading, annotating and citing as simple as possible – and key to this is the development of the new Mendeley Reference Manager.

With that guiding vision, communication with researchers must be very important to your team’s development plans.

Absolutely. The tools we offer must address challenges in researchers’ daily reality, so we are in constant communication with a range of researchers – those that use Mendeley, those that use other solutions, and those that don’t use any digital software at all to manage their references. These aren’t just casual conversations either. We have a robust user discovery program consisting of weekly sessions in which researchers test what we’re doing and give feedback.

This is an ongoing process, allowing us to provide researchers with a reference manager that not only addresses feedback gathered in the past, but also continues to develop over time with regular releases responding to feedback we continue to receive. Mendeley Reference Manager will evolve as researchers’ needs and the research landscape evolve.

Can you tell us more about the new developments you’re making with Mendeley Reference Manager?MRM image 2

In 2008, Mendeley was launched as a reference manager for researchers. Over the years, we’ve continued to develop Mendeley Desktop and the reference manager products.

More recently, though, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep developing the original Mendeley Desktop in the way we and our users need. A key element of this is how often we release a new version; with Mendeley Desktop we release four to five times a year, but with the new Mendeley Reference Manager we are releasing every two weeks. This means that we can respond faster to user feedback, and get new functionality and fixes out more regularly.

We have also built Mendeley Cite – a new citation add-in for Microsoft® Word. As with Mendeley Reference Manager, we have developed this very much in response to user feedback. For example, users have increasingly been asking for citation support in Microsoft® Office 365 but we could not offer this with the existing Mendeley citation plugin, as it’s built in VBA. We have built the new Mendeley Cite in JavaScript so users can now cite in Office 365.

Can you give us some more details about Mendeley Cite, and any other changes people can expect with the new Mendeley Reference Manager package?

In terms of new functionality that’s already available, two tools I’m really excited about are Mendeley Cite, as mentioned, and Mendeley Notebook – we’re hoping both will really help simplify researchers’ workflows.RNS_963_b.Cite version image

Mendeley Cite enables users to cite references and generate a bibliography, just as they could with our existing citation plugin, but as I mentioned, Mendeley Cite now works with Office 365. You also don’t have to be a Mendeley Desktop user to use Mendeley Cite – it works with your cloud library which is loaded into the add-in, so there is no need to switch between applications when citing, another feature that users were asking for a lot.

Mendeley Notebook is our brand-new note-taking tool. It’s a working space for keeping thoughts in one place, making it quick and easy to collect highlights from multiple PDFs and add you own comments. Researchers told us that they liked having highlights and annotations associated with the PDF, but that they were usually reading multiple PDFs at once and wanted their notes from all of these in one place. With Notebook they can do this.

We’ve also made the reference management experience generally more accessible and streamlined by making a lot of things just that bit better. A user’s library now automatically syncs to the cloud when they’re signed in; notifications about whether an action was successfully completed are a lot clearer; the look and feel has also been updated… And we’re continuing work on more features and functionality, which will release throughout 2019 – watch this space!

Gaby also talked about Elsevier’s commitment to source neutrality and maintenance of user control. How does the new Mendeley Reference Manager align with that?

Mendeley Reference Manager remains a place where researchers can gather papers and documents from any publisher or source. We do not give priority to Elsevier content; there’s no change there. Research support solutions of this type must remain source neutral. It’s essential for the researcher to remain unrestricted in that.

How do you feel now that the new version is out in the world?

I’m naturally excited to see the response to the new Mendeley Reference Manager. The development vision was very much informed by conversations with researchers about daily challenges. The post-release feedback on the new version is a key part of our development vision because it feeds our continuous iterative development. So, I’m excited and I know the development team are too.

And, lastly, where can people go to see all this for themselves?

The new Mendeley Reference Manager can be downloaded from www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager-beta. It’s currently in BETA, and doesn’t have all the functionality of the existing Mendeley Desktop just yet – but, as mentioned, we’ll be making releases to it every two weeks. The BETA works alongside Mendeley Desktop so you can try it out whilst still using your existing Desktop – just sign in using your Mendeley credentials and your library will sync.

You can get Mendeley Cite from Microsoft AppSource at www.mendeley.com/cite/word/install.

We’d love to get feedback on both of these to help inform future developments. So I encourage everyone to let us know their thoughts using the feedback links within Mendeley Reference Manager and Mendeley Cite. We really hope everyone enjoys using them!

Thank you very much for your time.

You can find out more about all-things Mendeley here

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 

Advisor of the Month: Robin Pertz; science librarian, NASA Glenn Research Center

How did you get into your field and what is your research story?

I started at a library in Gahanna, Ohio (Columbus Metropolitan Library) as a homework help center coordinator. As a former middle school science teacher seeking a new venue for my talents it was the library where my passion for teaching and my enthusiasm for learning collided. It was there I was encouraged to go to grad school where I earned my MLIS from Kent State. During my last semester at KSU I was assigned a project in which I interviewed the manager of the library at NASA Glenn. In a twist of fate, I was asked to complete my practicum, a culminating experience at a place I pined over as a child growing up in the Cleveland area. NASA was always a dream of mine. So it happened that a position became open while I was there and one thing led to another, the rest is history! Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought I’d be the science librarian at NASA.

Where do you do your research/work the best? What kind of environment suits you?

My best work is done in the morning, outside of my building at a picnic table. With the sound of wind tunnels and jet engines in the background with a cup of tea out of my NASA mug is when I’m doing my best work!

How long have you used Mendeley for? 

I have been on Mendeley since January 2017, I was actually the first person to “graduate” from the librarian certification program!

What were you using prior to Mendeley and how does Mendeley influence your research?

I was using NOTHING! Mendeley helps me save time and lean my research process. Saving me time, therefore saving the government time!

Why did you decide to become an Advisor and how are you involved with the program?

I guess it goes back to the need for teaching and learning. You can take a teacher out of a classroom but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher. I host all of our Mendeley demos here at our lab and encourage folks to lean their research process as well!

What researcher would you like to work with or meet, dead or alive?

After having been afforded the opportunity to have lunch with legend astronauts and personal heroes like Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Walt Cunningham, and Frank Borman…I cannot answer this question. I’ve already met some of the most wonderful humans that ever walked this earth and who have been to space.

 What book are you reading at the moment?

Secret time. I’m the librarian that doesn’t read as much as “most” librarians. I go through so much research everyday all day long that by the end of the day I’d rather go to the gym, go for a walk or work in the garden.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?

That someone actually wants to play football for the Cleveland Browns. Welcome to Cleveland OBJ.

What is the best part about working in research?

Seeing things grow from the ground up. I’ll get a research request, 8 months later see NEW research published that used the research that I found and culled together months ago!

And the most challenging part about working in research?

The misconception that I know everything that NASA publishes because I’m the librarian. (a humorous challenge)

What is one Mendeley “ProTip” you have?

Using the “search” feature to find research that spans across multiple disciplines of research that I’ve saved over the years. That is usually my starting point to a new research project.

Biography

Robin grew up in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Always wanting to be a teacher she ventured to central Ohio for her undergraduate degree in middle childhood education. While in college she was a supervisor of summer day camps for kids. After college graduation she stuck around central Ohio and was teaching until finding her love of libraries with the Columbus Metropolitan Library. It was there where she was encouraged to attend grad school where she could advance her career and passion for libraries and learning. Fate would have it that she landed an experience at the NASA Glenn Research Center where all her passions would collide into the perfect dream job! As the science librarian for one of 3 research centers that NASA has, her day to day is filled with many typical librarian tasks like cataloging, collection maintenance, promotion and outreach as well as citation verification, in depth research and reference. Robin also hosts various demos and workshops for the NASA Glenn staff of 1,500. As NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic Moon landing and the 60th anniversary of the Agency she hopes to be around to see many more anniversaries in the future and not for one moment takes for granted the esteem that comes for working with someone of the brightest people and most iconic Agencies in the world.

You can follow Robin’s Mendeley profile here

Shameless plugs…

https://www.instagram.com/tv/BlT1z7PghHU/

Follow me on twitter @glennlibrary

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Find out more about the Mendeley Advisor Community here

Meet the team: Rachel Brennesholtz

Job title: Researcher Community Manager

Intro

I’m originally a New Yorker, but I’ve been living in Amsterdam for almost 4 years.  It’s a great city for me since I’m a pretty devoted cyclist.

When did you join Mendeley?

I’ve been with Elsevier since 2015, but started working with Mendeley in June 2018. Before taking over the Researcher Communities, I was running marketing for Pure and some of the funder solutions.

What do you love most about your job?

Definitely the Advisors.  I love seeing just how many people in different parts of the world are using Mendeley and hearing about all the ways you love it.

What book did you most recently read?

Whatever I picked up at the little free library in my neighborhood. My Dutch reading level isn’t great, so I read whatever I can find in English. I also read The Economist and National Geographic- not books, but still great reading.

What’s one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?

I’ve got two things (which might be cheating)…

  • Mendeley is so much more than a reference manager. The groups functionality is amazing and I would tell everyone to play around with Mendeley Data.
  • We, the team at Mendeley, love hearing about your research success! When Mendeley lovers send us pictures, we print them and hang them in the office to remind us that there is massive community of devoted users.   (You can send them to us at community@mendeley.com)

How would you explain your job to a stranger on a bus?

As the Researcher Community Manager, I’m ultimately responsible for the Mendeley Advisors and several other community programs at Elsevier.  I’m running a lot of the things behind the scenes, making sure the Advisor program is growing with you and that we are giving you the best tools.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Definitely meeting with the Advisors. I’ve had virtual coffees with many of you, and I love when Advisors drop by our office in Amsterdam and London.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?

The metro stop by my house has the longest escalator in Benelux!

 

Rachel explains what she loves about Mendeley in her #MyMendeley video

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Find out more about the Mendeley Advisor Community here

Show your love for #MyMendeley!

As Mendeley Advisors, you do a great job speaking to the researcher community on your campus about the benefits of using Mendeley. But now we’re calling on you to spread the word even further! Take part in #MyMendeley by making a short video (15 seconds or less) about why you love Mendeley, and upload it to YouTube so we can share it across the social media universe.  (We’ve also raided the marketing giveaways cupboard, so we’ll be sending backpacks and t-shirts to the makers of our favourite videos.)

So here’s how it works:

  • Upload a short video of yourself to YouTube, telling us about why you love Mendeley – maybe how it helps you with your research, your favourite feature, or why you’d recommend it to others
  • Tag your video with #MyMendeley so we can find it and share it

What’s in it for you?

  • Mendeley Glory! We’ll be sharing the videos across our social media channels, so your wisdom will travel far and wide
  • Giveaways! We’ve got new t-shirts and some other fun things to send to the makers of our favourite videos

Looking for inspiration?  Check out Mendeley team members Rachel and Daniel’s videos.

Some tips for making a good video:

  • Keep your video short and snappy (15 seconds or less)
  • Use a fun background! Maybe your lab, a sign of your university or something else that shows where you are from. We used New York City’s famous Grand Central Terminal and Elsevier’s rare book room at our Amsterdam headquarters
  • Film somewhere that doesn’t have too much background noise
  • Give your video a catchy title, and feel free to tell us more about yourself, your research and how you use Mendeley in the description
  • Don’t forget to tag your video with #MyMendeley so we can find it!

We’re looking forward to seeing your videos.

 

Case Reports Live Webinar: How to write good case reports and get them published

Good case report foldersAs a scientific documentation on a single clinical observation, case reports offer timely and valuable information of best medical practices, especially on rare diseases. They show doctors how fellow practitioners have acted in similar situations and thus aid in the decision-making process. Not only do they significantly contribute to the medical knowledge pool, but they also help add to researchers’ portfolio. For those reasons, case reports have been a time-honoured and rich tradition in medical publication.

Writing a good case report, however, requires much more than just an interesting case. In fact, the most common reason for the rejection of case reports lies in writing styles. This can be a real challenge, especially for early-career researchers who are sharing their clinical experiences for the first time. Apart from that, it is also important to take into consideration the ethical issues and the journals to publish in. As suggested by Professor Oliver Kurzai, Editor-in-Chief of Medical Mycology Case Reports, case reports are often not as well cited as other publications, and therefore, publishing your work in the right journal will ensure it is read by the right people.

Case reports may sound quite overwhelming with all the work they demand. Yet, there are a lot of resources that can help you solve this puzzle. Adding to this knowledge, Researcher Academy, is hosting a webinar on How to Write Case Reports with Oliver Kurzai and Adilia Warris, the Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Board member of Medical Mycology Case Reports journal. The webinar will be held on Thursday, February 28th (2pm UTC) to give researchers a chance to interact with the editors who will talk them through the process of choosing suitable subjects, setting up and writing case reports, considering ethical issues as well as selecting an appropriate journal to publish in. You can now send the speakers questions in advance by joining the Researcher Academy Mendeley group and post your queries there.

Register for free here and see you at the webinar!

Mendeley advisor of the month: Sunday Linus Makama (DVM, MFS, PhD, ERT)

makamaSunday Makama is a researcher with interest in Food and Environmental Health and safety, and currently works at the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom, Nigeria. He is a Chief Veterinary Research Officer (CVRO), Toxicology in the Biochemistry Division of the NVRI. He has researched into various aspects of Emerging Food borne viruses, Food and Environmental Toxicology, Nanotechnology, Ethnoveterinary medicine, and Antimicrobial and other chemical residues. Before his current position, Sunday has worked as a private Veterinary practitioner, then as a Sales and Technical representative of an Agro-allied Company. His research works were conducted in several institutions at different times including the Netherlands Food Safety Institute (RIKILT) and Wageningen University and Research (WUR), the Netherlands Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) and Alterra, the Institute for Environmental Research, WUR.

Sunday holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. He also holds a Master’s degree in Food Safety (MFS) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in toxicology from the Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands. Sunday is also a certified European Registered Toxicologist (ERT).

How did you get into your field and what is your research story?

Towards the end of my Bachelors program in Veterinary College, I contemplated what I wanted to do with my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. Clinical practice, especially surgery fascinated me; so did issues of food safety and security as well as public health and environmental health and safety. I love finding answers to very intriguing questions, especially those that have significant impact on public health and environment. The research field provided a good opportunity to be involved in all these interests in a meaningful way. Afterall, multidisciplinarity is the spice of both fundamental and applied research. Now when I realized research and development was going to be the core of my career path, I wanted to be involved in doing something novel. The emerging (or re-emerging) fields in science like emerging technologies (nanotechnology) and emerging infectious diseases therefore, became my primary interests.

Where do you do your research/work the best? What kind of environment suits you?

A nice, clean and comfortable environment with lots of nature and a soft music (including those from nature) is a perfect setting for me. The only addition would be some tea.

How long have you been on Mendeley? 

Officially, I have been on Mendeley since January 2015

What were you using prior to Mendeley and how does Mendeley influence your research?

I used EndNote mostly and once in a while the Microsoft Word citations & bibliography. Mendeley has now become my main reference manager and with so much interactive and simple user interface, it is safe to say Mendeley plays a significant role in my research.

Why did you decide to become an Advisor and how are you involved with the program?

Working in a research environment with the inherent requirement of dissemination of your findings means lots of reading and writing. Finding a tool that is well amenable to your reading, writing and networking needs is a great relief that it will be inconceivable to ignore such an excellent support. Now, when you find a helpful tool that has aided your research work, it is only proper to share the good news. Being a passionate advocate for sharing of useful knowledge and seeing the enormous need around me, I decided to contribute my quota by transferring Mendeley knowledge to those that need it; and what a blessing it has been! I could liken my experience to that of the three Samaritan lepers (in Biblical times) who found food in the time Samaria was under siege and told themselves, “we do not well!” by not sharing the good news.

What researcher would you like to work with or meet, dead or alive?

Hmmm… that’s a tough one. I think it will be Prof. dr. Marcel H. Zwietering of Wageningen University.

What book are you reading at the moment and why?

I am actually reading two books:

  1. Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
  2. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason (Read it several times).

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?

The fastest person does not necessarily win the race.

What is the best part about working in research?

Getting to work in a multidisciplinary environment and overcoming the challenges of deciphering the unknown.

And the worst/most challenging part about working in research?

The weight of responsibility laid upon you by the fact that many depend on your findings to guide sometimes very critical decisions and policies.

What is the one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?

Mendeley is a sweet medley; a researcher’s best friend.