What’s Mendeley? And Why You’re Going to Love It.


I won’t spend a ton of time here going into the (many) reasons why Mendeley is so phenomenal, because I”m pretty sure that just 1 fact will be enough to convince you: drag & drop.

Let’s say you have a PDF of that perfect article (or 10) for the paper you’re writing:


With Mendeley, all you have to do is drag & drop the PDF into Mendeley Desktop (downloadable on Windows, Mac, & Linux), and (this is the BEST part) Mendeley automatically extracts all the metadata from the PDF and you have a full citation, with practically no effort on your part:


We literally had people gasp during this demonstration. I promise you’ll love it.

Now, there are a ton of additional features in Mendeley – it has become the social network for researchers because it is so easy to share information and see what your peers in the field are reading & researching. The University of Michigan is one of the largest university users to boot.

We have some really wonderful guides to help you get started with Mendeley (and the company itself has pretty great support products/videos); there’s also this handy comparison chart of the various citation management options available at UM, because depending on your needs, Mendeley might not necessarily be the best fit for you. You can always set up some time with your Liaison Librarian to discuss the best option for you!

And 2 final points of warning (because what sort of librarian-in-training would I be if I didn’t test the system before recommending it to you?):

1. If you’re used to using EndNote  and attaching PDFs to citations, then beware that if you delete the PDF, you won’t be able to click the PDF icon in Mendeley Desktop and still being able open up the article (because unlike EndNote, at least EndNote X6, Mendeley does not duplicate the PDF in a .data folder). In the screenshots above, after I dragged the article into Mendeley, then deleted the article from my desktop, I could no longer reopen the article from within Mendeley Desktop. However, if you just move the PDF around to a different location on your computer, Mendeley will still be able to locate the article.

2. This drag & drop feature is only as good as the metadata attached to the PDF – the example above is a 2012 article with lots of metadata (thankfully) attached to it; this isn’t always the case, especially with older articles.

2 thoughts on “What’s Mendeley? And Why You’re Going to Love It.

  1. Hi! Thanks for the great review. We’re happy you are enjoying using it. As a long-time Mendeley user and also part of the team, I’d like to address your warnings. Number 1 can be easily sorted out by using the file organizer (found in the preferences menu). By activating it, the files get renamed and stored in a given location of your choosing. You can then delete the downloaded file once Mendeley has processed it. Number 2 is a good point. Mendeley primarily tries to extract as much metadata directly from the file but then proceeds to search for extra information online if some unique identifier is found in the file such as a DOI or PubMed ID number.
    Hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback Ricardo! I’ll definitely be activating the file organizer and will let my colleagues know as well.

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