Getting the Most out of Mendeley


Mendeley is an online citation manager and social networking site focused on the scientific community.  Started in 2008 and bought by the publisher Elsevier in 2013, the mobile and desktop platform can be downloaded to your computer or used solely online.  Students and researchers use Mendeley to create bibliographies using collected references for a wide variety of source types including: articles, websites, reviews, conference talks, posters, charts, grey literature and more.  Organize all your research quickly by uploading directly article citations or PDFs.  Create new work cited lists regularly in a variety of styles as your projects develop.  With Mendeley you can organize and store articles you have read and articles you want to read.  The basic platform is free to all users, but advanced packages with additional features (such as increased storage) are available for a fee. 

Users can create a profile listing publications, projects and interests. This increases the visibility of you and your research.  Students can upload articles, data sets and other material such as poster PDFs or unpublished papers.  With Mendeley you can create an online portfolio of work to share with schools, labs, and employers even if you haven’t published official articles yet.  Using Mendeley, students can collaborate and communicate with groups and research teams. This is especially important if you work with researchers outside of UIC (or you want to!).  It is a site relevant to graduate students because over 90% of Mendeley users are students or academics [1].  It is helpful in finding research partners, international opportunities and jobs.

Mendeley can also be a place to find primary research articles vital to your area of study.  While not comprehensive enough for anyone doing a full literature review, Mendeley is good at connecting you with current research that fits your research profile.  Joining interest groups allows you to find articles that are highly relevant to your field. Set alerts to stay on top of new developments and publications.

Another way that Mendeley supports research is by providing readership statistics. It can help boost readership of newly published articles by allowing readership statistics to stand in for citation metrics.  Articles are often measured by how many citations they receive, but these citations can take years to accrue.  Graduate students, postdocs and junior professors are often held to discipline publishing standards even though it is difficult to gauge the impact of recently published papers.  So instead of looking at how many times a new paper has been cited, we can look at how many times a new article has been read. Studies show that there is a correlation between citation counts and reader counts for articles that are 5 years old or less [2].

Readership counts are currently one of the most substantiated forms of altmetrics. Altmetrics are the measurement of research impact outside of traditional academic publishing such as how many times an article is shared on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other networking sites.  Look for a future Science Cafe article on altmetrics!

Other sites that provide comparable networking and citation sharing services to Mendeley include ResearchGate, and F1000.  If you are looking for other options to manage your citations and references try RefWorks(free at UIC), EndNote (get from UIC web store) or Zotero (free online).  Read more about comparisons here.  The library hosts online workshops about Mendeley and other research tools each semester.  If you have any questions about Mendeley or other citation management tools- ask me (

1 & 2 Thelwall, M., & Sud, P. (2016). Mendeley readership counts: An investigation of temporal and disciplinary differences. Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, 67(12), 3036-3050.