Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mendeley - the next best thing since sliced bread?
I am excited to share this next resource with you all. It has truly made my life as a doctoral student remarkably easier! How can one program do that, you say? Well, let me show you.

First of all, it is FREE. Yes, it's free. Please note, it is free.

It is primarily a reference organization software program. But the best thing about it (in my opinion, at least) is that it is open-source, meaning that it is designed by users for users, and is thus updated much more often than a regular paid program, and it also has a much more intuitive design!

But it doesn't just organize your references. It also embeds citations into your Word document. You can also edit citations to include multiple references in one citation (such as: Gandy, 2012; Coles, 2013; Prorock-Ernest, 2010) or alter the citation to include a page number, or leave out the author name. Then, Mendeley will create a bibliography in the style that you select based on the references cited throughout your document!

That is not all that it does. You can manually enter new references into your library and "attach" the associated document (usually a PDF). You can also easily add new references to your reference library simply by dragging and dropping a document into the Mendeley screen (from your Windows Explorer screen, for instance). Mendeley then searches for information about the reference within the document, such as title, author, journal, year, volume, issue, abstract, key words, doi, and the list goes on! If Mendeley can't find the information, or has an error in the information it found, you can always fix it manually.

What if you have your reference library currently saved in another program, such as RefWorks, or EndNote? Easy! You can import references into Mendeley from most any other reference software.

But that's not all, folks! You also have a free Mendeley account online, where you can access your reference library from anywhere that you have internet access. You can also use a feature that will pull citation information right from a website, using a bookmark tool that Mendeley can install into your browser.

That's STILL not all! One of the most distinct and special features about Mendeley is that it also serves as an information sharing platform. You can go online with your Mendeley account, and find groups of other Mendeley users who are interested in the same things you are interested in. For instance, you can sign up to be a member of the "Qualitative Research Methodology" group. You can also browse other users' libraries to find literature of interest to you!

Lastly, it is a great tool for annotating your literature. You can highlight by selecting text (on newer, "smart" PDF's) or by dragging a rectangle of text (on older PDF's that don't recognize text). You can also make notes anywhere on the document. Then Mendeley has a nice view screen where you can see all of your notes on a single document, so you can review what you've annotated.

There are SO MANY MORE features to this program that I don't have time to go into. So, go check it out for yourself!!


  1. Have you looked at Zotero? It's also free.

    1. No I hadn't heard of that one. Thanks for passing it along! :)