Mendeley provides a convenient solution for collecting citations and references from scholarly databases and enables academics to collaborate and interact.
What is it?
Mendeley describes itself as 'a global research collaboration platform'. In other words, Mendeley is far more than just a reference management tool.
To use Mendeley, you must register as a user and install a number of applications.
Mendeley is a free, open source collaboration platform for MAC and PC, as well as iPad and iPhone. You can download Mendeley Desktop free of charge to your own computer. Mendeley can be accessed via several different platforms; you just have to remember to synchronise your directory regularly with the web so that you always have a fully updated directory from wherever you access your Mendeley account.
Mendeley allows free uploads of up to 100 MB, after which there is a charge.
What can it do?
Mendeley can be used as a reference management tool on a par with, for example, RefWorks, Reference Manager, Endnote or Zotero. Mendeley provides a convenient solution for collecting citations and references from scholarly databases, homepages, publisher websites etc.
You basically build up your own Mendeley reference database so that you can easily access and get an overview of the literature you will need to cite future publications and create the final reference list in compliance with the required styles when you come to publish.
Mendeley also enables you to collaborate with others to collect references, for example, for a joint article.
After installing Mendeley Desktop and the 'Save to Mendeley' bookmark in your browser, Mendeley can be used to collect and save references you find on the net with just a single click.
Afterwards you can effortlessly use the metadata linked to the individual reference (author, title, publication type etc.) In addition to references, Mendeley can also manage the article or book itself in PDF or other formats. This option means that you can put together an archive of your own articles and have more than just a register of references.
Mendeley also allows you to index the full text of your PDF files. Note that not all articles are 'cleared' for uploading to be used freely by anyone; a good number of academic articles are not open access.
Citing / drawing up a bibliography
Mendeley can interact with Microsoft Word, OpenOffice and LaTeX. This means you can easily insert the relevant references into your document from the Mendeley directory while you are writing. You only require one installation, which can be found on mendeley.com.
When the document is completed, you can request Mendeley to insert a bibliography or reference list, which will then be done automatically. Mendeley uses the same list as Zotero for managing citation styles, including Chicago, Vancouver etc. (see list). You can always find a style to suit your needs. If you do not, however, you can contact Mendeley to adapt a style to suit your needs; alternatively you can experiment with it yourself.
Mendeley allows you to share your collection of references with others. You can share in closed forums, such as research communities, departments or the like, or you may also choose to share references within public communities, such as interest groups.
Mendeley offers online tutorials. Furthermore, many Danish libraries have introduced Mendeley and are organising instruction on how to use it.