Mar 2 2011

Review of social citation tools

I have recently reviewed a number of social citation tools to see how they might support the work of a large research team. I thought my notes on these tools might be of interest.

Mendeley http://www.mendeley.com /

Mendeley is both a reference management tool and an academic social network. It is a desktop application as well as a website. Some of the features that Mendeley supports include:

  • Automatically generate bibliographies
  • Collaborate easily with other researchers online
  • Easily import papers from other research software
  • Find relevant papers based on what you’re reading
  • Access your papers from anywhere online

The desktop application allows you to keep all of your citations, references, and papers sorted, searchable, and neatly filed away on your hard drive. You can tag them, search the full text and annotate your PDFs using the Desktop application. You can also use it to create bibliographies.

A shared library allows you to collaborate with colleagues or other researchers as part of a project, however everyone will need to sign up for an account to get access to a shared library. You can also upload a profile and find researchers with similar interests to your own. Currently Mendeley is used by researchers across the disciplines, but researchers in biological science and medicine are some of the heaviest users. Data can be imported into Mendeley from a variety of other reference management tools, such as Endnote and Zotero.

Groups are a way of allowing researchers to share libraries – there are three types of groups:

  • Private groups – These private groups are visible only to members, who can share papers and notes. These work like the shared collections in previous versions of Mendeley.
  • Invite-only groups – These groups are visible to the public, but each has an owner who administers the group. These work like the public collections in previous versions of Mendeley with one major change – now any member can add documents.
  • Open groups – Anyone can join and contribute to these groups. We think they’ll be a great way to build community-driven collections of literature around a subject.

Storage space is up to 500MB per person for a free account. You get more space if you pay for a premium account. Premium accounts start at £4.99 per month to allow 7GB of storage, 10 private groups and 15 users. The £9.99 per month deal gives you 15GB of storage, 25 private groups and 20 users.

Zotero: http://www.zotero.org/

Zotero is a Firefox add-on which sits in your browser and allows you to collect, organise cite and share your research sources. You can use Zotero to collect many different types of resources including books, journal articles and web sites. You can also store PDFs, files, images and links in your Zotero library.

Zotero is primarily a personal reference management tool, but does also allow you to share resources with colleagues by creating group libraries. Similarly to Mendeley, group libraries in Zotero can be private, public or open by invite only. You can upload documents to a group library to allow users to share resources. All users must have a Zotero account to be able to use the groups feature. Each user gets 100MB of storage space – if you want more storage you can pay – prices are as follows:

1 GB     $20 ($1.67/month)
5 GB    $60 ($5/month)
10 GB $100 ($8.25/month)
25 GB $240 ($20/month)

Connotea http://www.connotea.org/

Connotea is a reference management tool aimed at researchers and scientists. It is a web based tool and doesn’t have any storage limits. You also don’t need to install any software on your computer. Unlike Zotero and Mendeley Connotea manages the references rather than the files. It does have collaborative elements allowing references to be private or shared with groups of colleagues. It can save links to anything you find on the web in addition to scholarly material, so it could be an alternative to a social bookmarking tool. Saving a reference is one click using a bookmarking button. Connotea was created by Nature publishing.

Anyone can set up a new user group in Connotea. Once you’re logged in, the Create a new group link in your tool box will take you to a form for creating a group and adding users to it. Groups can be either public or private — if private, only the group’s members will be aware of its existence. If public, all users and visitors can see the group, and the name of the group’s owner is displayed. A group is owned by the user who created it, and only that user can add or remove members.

Groups are a good way of tracking what your colleagues or collaborators are reading, or for co-operating on the creation of reference collections. They are also a useful way of finding new and related articles. Every user’s library page has a box at the top of the left-hand column that lists the groups that they either created or are a member of — click on the group name to navigate the list of articles posted by members of that group.

Note that there is no requirement for you to be a member of any group you create, and that currently there is no way of requesting to become a member of an existing group.

CiteULike http://www.citeulike.org/

Another social citation tool from Springer publishers. It allows you to manage and ‘discover’ scholarly references. CiteULike has enables you to store references and PDF files. You can also share your references with colleagues using CiteULike. You don’t need to download any software as CiteUlike is a web based tool. A host of publishers and journal platforms are supported by CiteULike enabling you to post articles from these sites very easily. You can add a link to anything on the web however, but may need to add bibliographic details manually.

Groups are collections of users creating shared libraries of links. They are useful for keeping track of a particular topic or what everyone else in a project, class or academic department is reading. You can start your own groups and join existing groups.

About Jane Secker

Digital Literacy and Copyright Advisor at LSE's Centre for Learning Technology
This entry was posted in Research Skills, Social Media, Tools & Technologies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Review of social citation tools

  1. AJ Cann says:

    CiteULike is not “from Springer” although it is sponsored by them. Currently offers unlimited free storage.
    It would also be worth mentioning BibSonomy in your list.

  2. Definitely useful, Jane! I hadn’t even heard of connotea before. Obviously everyone has their favourite – mine’s zotero: for that it’s also worth mentioning that zotero offers word processor plugins (ms word, openoffice), allowing you to insert citations and generate bibliographies as you write. Like Endnote… only open source!

  3. Maria Bell says:

    This is a really useful summary Jane for anyone considering which tool is most appropriate for their research projects.

  4. Jane thit is great! I have just started using Mendeley and I find it great. I really like the desktop version and the fact that I can annotate/highlight PDFs. The paper recommendations are really useful and you can add citations/create bibliographies easily. Also the ipad/iphone apps are just fab :-)

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