Reviewed by: Lana Kay on 04/01/2013
Mendeley is a web 2.0 tool for researching topics on the internet and then subsequently annotating the collections for the pertinent data needed for a report.
The program interfaces with a multitude of internet scholarly databases for easy access on a wide array of studies. This interface includes a plug in where the documents found within these databases can be loaded into the users personal library with the click of one button. This streamlined technology plus the ability to create user specific folders for archiving documents creates a very efficient means of handling research information.
In addition, the program enables efficient cut and paste creation of notes for a highly productive process in mining the information that you need for your specific research project.
Lastly, citations in all of the major formats are quickly created in Microsoft Word through a one click menu button so the user doesnt need to know the specifics of each citation format.
With Mendeley, productivity is obtained without a premium as all these features are available in the free version. Research is made easy for the layman or the experienced professional.
Things to know before using Mendeley
Set up a free user account. You will need to set up a profile but it doesnt have to be completed in order to start using the program. The benefits of the profile are simply so Mendeley can recommend papers and people associated with your interests. Mendeley has an app for iPhone and iPad which can also be used to access your Mendeley account.
Resources required for using Mendeley
Access to a computer and the internet is required and data that you want to import into the software or ability to search databases for research publications (note this is optional as you can search the web from your library within Mendeley to retrieve articles on the web).
How to use Mendeley in a teaching environment
This tool can aid with instruction on how to research a topic and streamline thoughts in order to write a report. Since most undergraduate coursework requires writing either a literature review or technical paper, this application would be ideal for either. Mendeley would assist in organizing the information and reinforce the concept of initially acquiring research followed by analyzing the article to create annotations of the relevant information for a specific research assignment.
Since Mendeley has an extensive database and utilizes a plethora of outside search engines, it would be ideal for a variety of fields of study. With the high usage of computer technology in K-12 education, I can envision the use of this tool in grades 7-12. The research may not be as extensive as in higher education, but writing papers are analytical thinking in research are still important skillsets to acquire.
Advantages of using Mendeley
Easy Citations with Microsoft Plug-in
When learning how to create literature reviews or technical reports one of the hardest elements to master is the formatting of the document. Each research type has distinctively different ways of presenting the same information. While this program doesnt provide the overall template for the final products formatting, it does create the citations with the touch of a button. This is especially helpful if you are creating papers for an English class and an engineering class where the citations are APA and IEEE, respectively.
Annotations of Document/Article
This is the most productive element of this program. In case you missed it earlier, the highlight video, (created with Adobe Captivate), demonstrates how this works. Basically, you can annotate notes from each of your documents in your library. This annotation process is simple and allows the researcher to focus on the elements of the document that relate specifically to their research topic. This enables the analytical thinking process and facilitates an easier way to organize your thoughts when its time to write your paper. This is the jewel of the program!
Suggested Research Citation Based on User Profile
For those users who are unfamiliar with the wide range of scholarly databases, Mendeley enables quick and easy searches on topics from the My Library view of the online program. When starting the research process, the biggest step is getting started. Once other sources are identified then it gets easier to follow the path to more detailed information regarding the users research topic. This program facilitates this experience and simultaneously exposes the user to the research process.
Disadvantages of using Mendeley
No Educational Templates or Formats for Research Paper
Mendeley focuses on the research portion of the process and doesnt provide formatting for multiple writing styles. In this sense, the program only provides partial coverage of the entire process. the program could be greatly enhanced by adding this information to create a single source reference site. In the interim, the best resource that I have found for the writing formats is located at the following link:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/Mobile Devices Don't Allow Annotation
While Mendeley is available on iPad and iPhone, the annotation capability is not enabled in these devices. The program could be made more robust with this functionality with the increased uses of these devices by students.