I may have a new love. Put social networking and research together and you get the answer to the prayer of every lonely doctoral student: Mendeley.

Consider:

  1. I have JUST started with a Mendely account.  12.5% of my profile is complete.  About all the system knows about me is that I am a doctoral student in Education.  And the first article that pops to the top of the “Top Articles” feed is one that I need, critically reviewing the hype over digital natives.  I was lucky enough to even be able to download it to my computer right then and there, without having to go to my library’s site, log in, and hope that we subscribe to that particular journal’s electronic delivery system.  Stellar.
  2. I can also add what I find to my Library either online or in a desktop application.  Or both, and keep them synched.  While I love Endnote, Mendeley was much faster on a paper that had already been stored in the system.  It will be interesting to see how it holds up while doing a search through some other databases.
  3. It promises to help me organize AND annotate my PDFs.  I don’ t know about you, but I’m starting to store up an impressive collection of these articles on my hard drive.  While I can put them into Endnote, I have to do it manually.  And I can’t annotate in Endnote.  I may have finally found a way to stop taking notes either on paper or in a Word document while reading for my literature review.
  4. I can connect with others in my field, at least virtually, while working.  This lessens the sense that I’m out here in the frontier alone except for occasional care packages from my adviser.  I haven’t worked up the courage to try to contact any of my major authors, but I can keep an eye on what they put up, tag, and gather into collections.  This gives me their expertise a degree removed … almost like I am going to a huge, grand university where all my major authors teach.  Well, not all.  I’m sure that many have not yet found this little social network, but I am hopeful.

I’ll admit that there are a lot of maybe and hopefuls in the above list.  Like many other professional networking tools, this might become too sparsely or too thickly populated to be useful.  But for the moment, I’ll treat it like a grand database loosely managed.  It won’t be my only source for information, but it certainly will be as useful as the old standbys.

Advertisements