At its most basic level, Mendeley is a citation management tool, but it can also help with other aspects of research, such as:
- Organizing PDFs of research papers, including annotations and highlights.
- Inserting bibliographies and citations into a word processor.
- Sharing research with collaborators.
- Discovering articles in your field.
The basic Mendeley account is free. To get the most out of Mendeley, it’s best to use both the web (browser-based) application and the desktop application (which is available for Mac, Windows and Linux). To use Mendeley you will sign up for a free account on Mendeley.com. And from there, you can also download the desktop application.
Sign up for an account:
Go to https://www.mendeley.com/join/ and click the Sign up for free link in the upper right corner.
The free account gives you 1 GB of space (500 MB for personal documents and 500 MB of shared space to use with groups), the ability to create 5 private groups with a maximum of 10 users per group. Paid options allow you to increase those limits.
Once you have your account set up, you can edit your profile to share additional details about yourself with colleagues you connect to through Mendeley. In your profile, you can also mark publications in your library for which you are the author, and Mendeley will track page view, reader and download statistics on those articles for you.
Download the Desktop application:
Go to http://www.mendeley.com/download-mendeley-desktop/ and download the appropriate version for your operating system. Windows, Mac and Linux versions are available.
Note: You can use Mendeley Desktop without creating an account in Mendeley Web but the program is much more useful if you have an account. The instructions here assume you are using both the desktop version (referred to as Mendeley Desktop) and the browser-based version (referred to as Mendeley Web) in tandem.
Install Web importer
Go to http://www.mendeley.com/import/ and follow the instructions for adding the Import to Mendeley button in your browser. It is an application that sits in your browser's bookmark bar; you will click the bookmark when you want to save a citation from an online source. If you use more than one browser regularly, do this to all of them. Do run the Pop-up Blocker Test and turn off blocking for Mendeley or you will not be able to automatically collect citations.
Although Mendeley Desktop and Mendeley Web look similiar, there are some feature differences that dictate how you will use each one.
Mendeley Desktop excels at ingesting PDFs and autotmatically creating citation data from the information in the PDF. Mendeley desktop also offers excellent features for managing your PDFs on your computer and searching and viewing them.
Mendeley Web allows you to access your saved research on the go (depending on how much of your data you decide to sync) and collect citations while browsing online databases. Mendeley Web will also ingest PDFs from a very small selection of journals, but this is neither widely supported nor very reliable. Mendeley Web also provides access to "largest crowd-sourced research catalog" via its Papers collection.
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