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January 11, 2011

Last year while trying to get my research organized I stared using Mendeley1 . My then system for cataloging pdfs of papers was nothing, so it was an obvious improvement. It’s worked quite well in the role of simple pdf organization, though the makers seem to have big ambitions. “changing the way science is done” and such. The software seems to have some potential (here is a recent review).

Reading a bit about “Science 2.0”, open-access, research tools, The 3rd Reviewer, etc2. It occurred to me one potential for Mendeley, particularly the website, is to facilitate the expert as curator role. Imagine if you’re searching for research articles that use method X on topic Y. You could search those terms on Google scholar and wade though possibly hundreds of potential finds. Sure there will be a lot of hits, but how do you know the difference between Seminal Paper in XY and minor unreplicable blip in XY? If some expert on XY keeps an (up to date & annotated) list of 25 important studies on the topic, that might be useful, no? Particularly if you’re searching slightly beyond your area of expertise, towards a new method or topic. When I first started to learning a the new method I’m using one of the more useful things was finding an up to date, well referenced, textbook on the subject. As much for the references as the content.

This seems to be the way the web is being used in general. Curation through likes, diggs, blog aggregators, etc3. A premium is placed not just on producing content, but managing it. Scientific researchers certainly find themselves in a similar position. There’s already plenty of thing available in the category of managing information and staying up to date, email alerts, RSS feeds, Google Scholar. I think Mendeley could potentially play a role there. I don’t know if that is what the creators have that in mind or not.
1. After a few Mendeleev jokes
2. This is a category cluster for me for some reason.
3. Link to recent article on such . Just Google “curation” for much more.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dan permalink
    January 11, 2011 2:40 pm

    Yes! Hundreds of trees and thousands of grad student-hours would be saved by such curated lists.

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