Copyright: Antonio Guillem

The iTunes for academic papers

When I decided to start my PhD, I knew that I’d be required to read and digest academic papers and that my research of these papers would build up into a literal library of knowledge. It is important to organise such a web of information, and I was concerned with how I might find a sufficient way to do so. Mendeley is the way that I found best to index my library.

Mendeley is a free computer program that organises references and keeps relevant papers at your fingertips by creating a personal, fully searchable database. Its interface reminds me of an iTunes for academic papers, as it is possible to organise via various categories including author, title and year of publication. A sidebar that contains the abstract, keywords and other useful bibliographic information for each article conveniently pops up whilst browsing your library. Upon finding the desired article, a double-click loads it up directly eliminating the need to track it down manually.

Another nice feature of the program is that an online profile is created for each user. Personal libraries can be synced to these profiles and this enables sharing of relevant groups of documents amongst fellow researchers. In this way it is very much like a social network for academics and stands to evolve the way research is done. As an example, Mendeley supports groups which, according to their website, “are a simple way for you to collaborate with your colleagues to create a shared collection of documents.”

A feature that makes Mendeley even more user-friendly, is its compatibility across virtually all operating systems. In fact, it’s possible to run Mendeley on your iPhone or iPad. For me, all of these features make Mendeley the way forward for referencing academic papers and simultaneously collaborating with other researchers.

More information can be found at

Featured image credit: Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock

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