Tuesday, February 5, 2013

CiteULike vs. Mendeley I

In the context of my last post I decided to start a small test series to determine if "social bookmarking" is a helpful tool for my research. I signed up for both CiteULike and Mendeley and checked out some of the features. Here is my first impression:

CiteULike is a completely web-based system. One just has to create a user account and can start. The user interface looks very plain and it takes a bit to realize how you can actually "do stuff". The main thing I did was to import my publication library into the system. In my case that's a .bib file and the system pointed out some errors in a few entries, which I had to remove first. But then it worked beautifully. There are a lot of options that can be ticked and un-ticked when importing data and of course I ended up with uploading a lot of my random tags and notes (a lot of them I haven't even put in on purpose but they are just automatically generated stuff when I downloaded the citations). After putting my library online I tried to find if any of my peers uses the same system and search through the groups that have already been installed by other users. This was somehow disappointing as even the very broadest key word describing my field just resulted in one group used by one other user. My research field seems to be highly underrepresented in CiteULike which defeats a bit the purpose of using it for publication sharing and networking.

Mendeley consists of two components. A web based one similar to CiteULike and a desktop version, which is more like a common reference manager but synchronizes with the user profile. The user interface of the web based part is much nicer and makes the impression that there are a lot of options to "do stuff". It took me quite a while to figure out how to upload my whole library at once, as I could only find options for uploading single articles. I had to install the desktop component to be able to upload all my references in one go but the synchronization with the web profile was not a problem. Until a few weeks ago Mendeley offered a synchronization option with CiteULike but unfortunately this does not exist anymore. Searching through the research topic resulted in quite a few groups related to my research field, even sub-topics were already covered and I found a lot of publications read by others which are already in my library. But I haven't found yet any people I know.

So, from a first impression I'd say 0:1 for Mendeley - but I'll keep exploring during the next few weeks, so it's not decided yet.

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