Automatic metadata and reference extraction (Mendeley Desktop)
Original author(s) Mendeley Ltd.
Developer(s) Elsevier
Initial release August 2008 (2008-08)
Stable release
1.19 / 2018
Operating system Cross-platform
Available in English
Type Reference management software, social software for academic research
License Proprietary

Mendeley is a desktop and web program produced by Elsevier for managing and sharing research papers,[1] discovering research data and collaborating online. It combines Mendeley Desktop, a PDF and reference management application available for Windows, macOS (Sierra and High Sierra no longer supported[2]) and Linux. It also provides Mendeley for Android and iOS, with Mendeley Web, an online social network for researchers.[3][4][5]

Mendeley requires the user to store all basic citation data on its servers—storing copies of documents is at the user's discretion. Upon registration, Mendeley provides the user with 2 GB of free web storage space, which is upgradeable at a cost.


Mendeley, named after the biologist Gregor Mendel and chemist Dmitri Mendeleyev,[6] was founded in November 2007 by three German PhD students and is based in London. The first public beta version was released in August 2008. The company's investors include some people previously involved with, Skype, and Warner Music Group,[7] as well as academics from Cambridge and Johns Hopkins University.

Mendeley won several awards in 2009: "European Start-up of the Year 2009",[8][9] TechCrunch Europas "Best Social Innovation Which Benefits Society 2009",[10] and The Guardian ranked it #6 in "Top 100 tech media companies".[11]

On September 23, 2013, Mendeley announced iPhone and iPad apps that are free to install.

Purchase by Elsevier

Mendeley was purchased by the Elsevier publishing company in 2013. The deal price was speculated to be €50 million (US$65 million), following earlier speculation that it was between $69 million and $100 million.[12] The sale led to debate on scientific networks and in the media interested in Open Access,[13] and upset members of the scientific community[14] who felt that the program's acquisition by publishing giant Elsevier, known for implementing restrictive publishing practices, the high prices of their journals[15] (see The Cost of Knowledge), and publicly supporting the SOPA bill, was antithetical to the open sharing model of Mendeley.[16] David Dobbs, in The New Yorker, suggested Elsevier's reasons for buying Mendeley could have been to acquire its user data and/or to "destroy or coopt an open-science icon that threatens its business model."[16]

In 2012, Mendeley was one of the repositories for green Open Access recommended by Peter Suber.[17] The recommendation was revoked in 2013 after Elsevier bought Mendeley.[18]

In 2018, an update to Mendeley resulted in some users losing PDFs and annotations stored in their accounts.[19] After a number of weeks, Elsevier announced a potential fix for this problem.[20]

Vendor lock-in controversy

Since its 1.19 release in 2018 Mendeley encrypts its local database using a proprietary algorithm, making it difficult for users to export their data from the application and possibly creating a vendor lock-in situation.[21][22]


Mendeley is available either as a premium payable version or a basic version that is free but requires registration.

  • Mendeley Desktop, based on Qt, runs on Windows, Mac (macOS Sierra and High Sierra not officially supported[2]) and Linux.
  • Automatic extraction of metadata from PDF papers.
  • Back-up and synchronization across multiple computers and with a private online account.
  • PDF viewer with sticky notes, text highlighting and full-screen reading.
  • Full-text search across papers.
  • Smart filtering, tagging and automatic PDF file renaming.
  • Citations and bibliographies in Microsoft Word,, and LibreOffice.
  • Import of documents and research papers from external websites (e.g., PubMed, Google Scholar, Arxiv) via browser bookmarklet.
  • BibTeX export/file sync.
  • Private groups to collaboratively tag and annotate research papers.
  • Public groups to share reading lists.
  • Social networking features (newsfeeds, comments, profile pages, etc.).
  • Usage-based readership statistics about papers, authors and publications.
  • iPhone app.
  • iPad app.
  • Android app.

See also

Notes and references

  1. Jason Fitzpatrick (2009-08-17). "Mendeley Manages Your Documents on Your Desktop and in the Cloud". Retrieved 2009-08-17.
  2. 1 2 Elsevier. "Is Mendeley Desktop supported in Mac OS 10.12 (Sierra)? - Mendeley Support". Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  3. Hull, D.; Pettifer, S.; Kell, D. (Oct 2008). McEntyre, Johanna, ed. "Defrosting the digital library: bibliographic tools for the next generation web". PLOS Computational Biology. 4 (10): e1000204. Bibcode:2008PLSCB...4E0204H. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000204. ISSN 1553-734X. PMC 2568856. PMID 18974831.
  4. Henning, V.; Reichelt, J. (2008). "Mendeley - A For Research?". 2008 IEEE Fourth International Conference on eScience. 7 (12): 327–328. doi:10.1109/eScience.2008.128. ISBN 978-1-4244-3380-3.
  5. BBC (2009-10-26). "Science enters the age of Web 2.0". BBC News.
  6. Victor Henning, How our name evolved from B-movie monster to Mendeley, 23 April 2008
  7. "Case study – Mendeley shares scientific research to build a better future". 1 August 2014. Retrieved 2017-12-29.
  8. (2009-03-12). "Winners for Plugg Start-Ups Rally 2009 announced". Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  9. TechCrunch (2009-03-12). "Plugg wraps with two very capable winners". Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  10. TechCrunch (2009-07-09). "The Europas: The Winners and Finalists".
  11. The Guardian (2009-09-07). "The top 100 tech media companies". London.
  12. Confirmed: Elsevier Has Bought Mendeley For $69M-$100M To Expand Its Open, Social Education Data Efforts. 8 April 2013.
  13. Elsevier takes over Mendeley: And you, what do you think?, MyScienceWork Archived 2013-05-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. "The Empire acquires the rebel alliance: Mendeley users revolt against Elsevier takeover". paidContent. Apr 9, 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  15. "Thousands of Scientists Vow to Boycott Elsevier to Protest Journal Prices". ScienceInsider. Feb 1, 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  16. 1 2 "When the Rebel Alliance Sells Out", David Dobbs, The New Yorker, April 12, 2013
  17. Suber, Peter (2012). Open Access. MIT Press Essential Knowledge. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-51763-9.
  18. Peter Suber (2013-04-09). "Elsevier bought Mendeley".
  19. "Thousands of researchers hit by Mendeley update glitch". Times Higher Education (THE). 2018-06-15. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  20. "Update on the missing PDF issue". Mendeley Blog. 2018-06-27. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
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