Scholars: Save Time With Mendeley’s New Literature Search Feature

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searching-academic-references

Let’s face it, the time it takes to find the citations you need is slowing down the research process.

Tools like Google Scholar have made it much easier for academic researchers to search for and find academic research. But there’s another player out there you should be using when searching for literature: Mendeley reference search (If you’re not familiar with Mendeley, check out my last post on why researchers should use Mendeley to organize their research library and more efficiently compete their research).

The other day I was updated to the latest version of Mendeley Desktop for Mac. This new update features an exciting new feature embedded into the desktop application, but which you may not know already existed on Mendeley.com!

You can now conduct a literature search of the Mendeley community crowd-sourced research database – that is, all the articles that are in the Mendeley libraries of all other Mendeley users – via a search bar in the program (click the “Literature Search” from the library box on the left hand side of the app). An important feature here, is that you can download the PDFs of articles people have shared (I’ll explain how below).

mendeley-literature-search-overview

A quick test of this feature made me a believer!

How does it work?
Think of Mendeley.com as a social network for researchers (see the features at the bottom of this post). When you join Mendeley, you create an account and can fill out a profile (here’s my Mendeley profile  – it needs some updating). The articles in your library are connected to your profile, and are also added to Mendeley’s ever-growing database.

The Literature Review feature in Mendeley Desktop mimics the Papers search on Mendeley.com. The integrated search carries some of the same great benefits of search on Mendeley.com. For example, In both cases, when you find a reference or reference with PDF you want to add to your library, you can seamlessly add it to your Mendeley reference library via a button either online or in your Mendeley Desktop. What could be better?!

mendeley_seemless-search

Maximize Mendeley Desktop search with Advanced Search:

A quick search for Twitter revealed 4,223 results. Great, right? Yes and no. While a number of the articles were journal pieces and conference proceedings, many were web pages or newspaper articles. These are useful, but what if you want only journal articles?

To have success with Mendeley Literature Search, you will want to learn how to do advanced searches. Advanced search works like many queries using operators such as author: “Kushin” or title: “How to Use Mendeley”. In Mendeley Desktop you can easily search the following by clicking the down arrow on the magnifying glass: authors, titles, publication name, year, and whether the article is from an open access journal. So no memorization needed.

mendeley-search-advanced

But let me add to that a few operators you’ll want to write down to enhance your searching:
(Note: When entering a query, leave no space after the colon.)

Article Type –  This allows you to search only the type of article you want to find, such as for my Twitter search example above. To find only journal articles, use the operator type:journal.
A few more common article types you may want are:
type:conference_proceedings – Conference Proceeding
type:book – for a book
type:book_section – book chapter
type:thesis – for a thesis or dissertation.

Discipline – Because Mendeley covers a wide array of academic disciplines, you may want to search just within your own. Use the operator discipline:
A few popular disciples are:
discipline:social-sciences
discipline:humanities
discipline:business-administration
discipline:arts-and-literature
discipline:psychology
discipline:computer-and-information-science

Use of quotations, AND and OR – Just like Google a word in quotes means the search query must match the exact words. Without quotes, the search query will return any word in the query. OR and AND can also be used, such as author:”Bill Smith” AND year:2003, which will return articles by author Bill Smith that were published in 2003. OR enables you to find one or another. For example, you may search for year:2008 OR year:2009.

So, if I’m looking broadly for journal articles in the social sciences that contain Twitter, I might search:

Twitter type:journal discipline:social-sciences

If you don’t want to learn these operators, you can conduct a Papers advanced search via Mendeley.com and complete the form.

mendelywww-search

Looking Forward:

According to a news release, Mendeley plans to add to Mendeley Desktop the ability to search journals your institution subscribes to (a la Google Scholar). I can’t wait for this one! They also plan to add search for people and groups within Mendeley Desktop.

While I’m a Google Scholar fan myself, more and more I find myself supplementing my searches with Mendeley reference search. The ability to find the profiles of scholars, and thus their other works, is something that excites me!

Check out this new feature and let me know what you think! Do you use Mendeley search? How have you found it? If you enjoyed this article, please share it.

FYI:

Mendeley.com account Features:

  • Dashboard – with news feed of people you follow or research groups you are in
  • Library – Access to your entire library and PDFs (those you’ve added to Mendeley Desktop) meaning you can access your library from anywhere on the web.
  • Groups – You can find groups by discipline or research interest, share papers, have discussions, see what others are reading, and more. Not seeing a group to fit your niche? Start one! This is a lot of potential for new collaborations here! Groups can be public or private and you can access them directly through Mendeley Desktop.
  • People – Find colleagues or your favorite scholars!
  • Papers – The ability to search the Mendeley reference library (again, cultivated from Mendeley users).

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photo credits: top: public domain – wiki commons, rest: screen grabs

8 thoughts on “Scholars: Save Time With Mendeley’s New Literature Search Feature”

  1. Thanks for writing this post Matthew 🙂 I just thought I’d let you know that you can search date ranges too using the syntax below:

    year:[1983 TO 2003]

    This was previously undocumented, but we’ve updated the support page to reflect this now.

    Thanks again 🙂

      1. You’re welcome! I tried it out after I read your post. The Mendeley search produces different results from Google Scholar as well as a university library search. It’s a welcome resource!

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