When I was doing my honours degree, our head of department advised us to get a programme called Mendeley to help us with referencing. I did, and found it was a great little programme. I haven’t used it in ages though but, since I’m starting my masters now and I’m sure I’ll have a meed for it, I’ve come back to it and decided to recommend it to anyone that needs a referencing programme.

In case you don’t know what a referencing programme is for, I’ll give a brief overview. It’s a piece of software that automatically creates reference lists when you are writing a scientific paper, or a school project or whatever you need a reference list for. It will store all your pdfs, or manually entered entries, for easy access and use, sort of like iTunes but for articles instead of music. When you’re typing something up you just select an article and it will put a reference note in your document and generate the reference list for you according to many different citation styles. If you go back and change something or put in a new reference it will automatically renumber all your references for you. Far more convenient than doing it all by hand!

I can’t really compare it to other programmes as it’s the only one I’ve actually used. What I can do is tell you what I liked about it and perhaps that will resonate with you.

-It works over multiple platforms. That wasn’t a big deal to me in the beginning because I only used Windows. Now I use Windows and Linux Ubuntu so any programme that can work on both platforms is excellent for me. It also works on Macintosh.

-It syncs all your data. It will even sync the actual files and not just lists, though I don’t have the sort of internet connection that makes that feasible so I’ve never used that feature. For people that have better internet though it might be a selling point.

-It works with various office programmes. Although I wasn’t using Linux at the time, I had left Microsoft Office for OpenOffice.Org. If I remember correctly, the university’s chosen reference software was not compatible with OpenOffice.Org, making this reason the real one that sold it to me. I’ve also now left OpenOffice.Org for LibreOffice but it seems the plugin still works and the new versions of Mendeley might actually be designed for LibreOffice instead. I’m not sure because I haven’t upgraded yet but I saw the notes say the Mac version plugin is for LibreOffice now.

-It automatically imports information from pdfs. It’s not perfect but it’s easier to correct it than enter it all yourself, especially if you have lots of documents.

-It’s free! I’m a fan of free software (Linux, OpenOffice.Org and LibreOffice are also free) and it means there’s no reason not to try it.

I’m sorry this is only really advertising but if you do the sort of writing that requires references then this might be worth checking out.


7 thoughts on “Mendeley

  1. Hi Jason, thanks for the great blog post. We’re happy to read that you’re enjoying your experience with Mendeley. Working on multiple platforms was also a great bonus for me but there are many other reasons that make it a great research companion. Keep up the good work and we hope Mendeley can help you (and possibly your interested colleagues) change the way you do research!
    If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a line. We’re here to help.

  2. I didn’t expect anyone involved with Mendeley to actually find my little blog so this quite a nice surprise. It’s been a really useful tool for managing pdfs, and it’s got a nicer reader than what Ubuntu comes with, so thank you. I still need to actually update the one on my desktop but I might have a suggestion if it hasn’t been implemented since I last used Mendeley.

  3. I don’t have much (really any) knowledge of programming so I’ll stick with what other people have provided. So far everything seems to be working fine so I don’t really have a need to make anything new. The best I can do is encourage other people to use free software and hope one of them has the expertise to build new features.

  4. Pingback: Open-source and open-access news | Evidence & Reason

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