I am a new graduate student intern at the Weigle Information Commons. When invited to write a blog post about my experience in using one application/software, I came up with the idea to write about Mendeley, since I have been playing with this research management tool for a while. As a graduate student at Penn GSE, I have a large number of research papers to read, so I’m always looking for a tool to manage those papers and my notes taken down on them. This is the motivation for me to attend the Mendeley workshop in May and start using it.
You may hear of Refworks and Zotero for research management. Mendeley shares the same characteristics with them in some ways: gathering, organizing and analyzing your sources (citations, text, images, etc), as well as creating bibliographies/references efficiently. Actually, at first, I haven’t found the function of adding bibliography in an APA format, which really confused me. I asked the WIC staff and learned to download a plug-in from Mendeley.com and then the bibliography will be automatically produced in Microsoft Word. The other question brought up by my friend is how to import information from other resources, such as Google Scholar and Wikipedia. The solution is the same as mentioned above – to add another plug-in called “Web Importer”.
Moreover, you can make your own group and work on annotation collaboratively and synchronously with all your group members, which is pretty convenient for group projects. Not only does Mendeley allow you to share files and papers with people around you, but also it has an online version for you to build a social network with anyone around the world, as long as they have accounts for Mendeley. It works like Facebook in a scholarly way. You can join any group you are interested in, maybe in the same research topic or in the same institution, and then read or share their research works.
Pitifully, the types of groups are not diverse. When searching some groups relevant to my major, educational linguistics, there were no results. Additionally, either the number of members in each group or shared papers is relatively small, which are not beneficial to research studies. Nevertheless, I believe with the popularity of using Mendeley, this phenomenon will change: more and more groups will be set up and accordingly, the number of shared works will be growing greatly.