App Reviewed: Mendeley – Reference Manager (Lite) (Ver. 1.3.3)

Last Updated: December 6, 2011
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Requires: iOS 4.0 or later
Reviewed on: iPad 2

Goals of app review:

  • Evaluate the utilization of Mendeley’s app as a portable reference manager
  • Determine ability to read and edit papers via Mendeley’s app

What is Mendeley?
Mendeley is a free reference manager available to help collect and organize research articles. The largest premise behind Mendeley is its ability to not only to store papers and annotate articles in your collection, but also to collaborate with other users.

This is done by initially creating an account with Mendeley (which is free) and then uploading your files. This can be done via an internet browser or downloading a desktop application. Members with a free account get 1 GB free for usage, and may pay a premium monthly rate for more space.

From here, it is then possible to organize documents into folders (e.g. cardiology, geriatric, statistics). A group can then be formed, in which uploaded articles can be annotated and reviewed by anyone invited. This is a great way to work and collaborate on projects with all data shared between different users.

Lastly, Mendeley also has a bit of social media flare to it. Members can upload files and include information about themselves. Public profiles include publications made by the user, their research  field of interests, biographical information, and their professional experience.

From this, it is possible to find other members with similar interests for possible collaboration. Another aspect is the inclusion of public groups that are open to all members who have similar interests (e.g. pharmaceuticals, informatics). Here, members may post articles that they feel others may enjoy or benefit from, post questions to other members, and engage in discussions.

Overall, Mendeley is a great service to utilize either via their website or their downloadable application to the desktop. Files are easily annotated and organized according to a user’s preference. Working with others is easily done and relatively smooth, and has helped with the research process. The only issue is for a large investment of collaboration, premium services will have to be utilized.

App Specifics:
The current version of the Mendeley app is rather limited in its overall function. Unlike the desktop based application or utilizing Mendeley through an internet browser, most of the key features on the app are unavailable. This includes the ability to annotate documents that are currently uploaded to the members account.

Upon starting up the app, the user will log into their Mendeley account. From here, the app will then sync with the member’s account, including all documents and folders.

Unfortunately, it appears if the member has a relatively large amount of files, this may take awhile. After syncing with the member’s account, the user is given an overall menu screen as shown below. It is then possible to access all documents currently uploaded and folders and group files.

Selecting a file will then bring up a summary guide about the document selected.


It is then possible to read the document via the Mendeley app, or export it to iBooks. In addition, the file may be sent via email to another colleague.


Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, it is currently not possible to annotate the document through the Mendeley app, and requires utilizing another application to achieve this. The disappointing part of this is the fact that the user is unable to see current annotation made to the document, especially if it was done by a collaborator they are working with.

Mendeley has a support team as part of their website, and a component dedicated towards their mobile apps. Looking through current issues raised with the app, it appears the developers have recognized the shortcomings of the app and are working on a new version for the end of the year. One of the new changes should be the able to annotate documents through the Mendeley app, which would greatly improve its overall function.


As it currently stands, the Mendeley app really is only beneficial in its current form as a reference manager that allows the user to read what files they have already uploaded to their account. This may be beneficial for a user to quickly look at stored studies they have placed in their account and then email it to colleagues on the spot.

However, the severe limitation is that the app does not have the ability to annotate and see others input into papers when collaborating, which this reviewer feels detracts from its overall uniqueness as a reference manager.

Price:

  • Free – Requires account with Mendeley (which is also free)
  • Premium accounts for increased storage and ability to create more private groups with additional member slots


Likes:

  • The app is relatively simple to use with an easy UI
  • Documents easy to read on
  • Ability to sync with files uploaded to members account
  • Mendeley Support appears to be addressing shortcomings of the app in the future
  • Export document via email may be beneficial


Dislikes:

  • Does not support use of annotation in the current app version
  • To many files may cause the app to crash or load slowly
  • App while being tested would freeze at times

 

Conclusions:

  • Mendeley is a great way to collect and collaborate references with other members.However, the current mobile application is limited in use and does not support the features found on the Mendeley desktop application.
  • Pros – Mobile app is a easy to use reference manager to read and export to fellow collaborators.
  • Cons – Mobile app does not support document annotation currently, and has some overall stability issues that need to be addressed.


*This app will be re-reviewed in the future, after the developers make changes that have been discussed.*

iTunes Link

 

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.