Friday, October 15, 2010

Dynamic links to private tagged Mendeley collections

My close collaborators and I have been using Mendeley as a convenient way to share PDFs of journal articles. Not all of us have access to the same libraries so links are not enough - we need the full documents. We also use Dropbox as a redundancy but Mendeley allows tagging and recording notes, which is very handy for everyone in the group.

Now that Mendeley is providing an API, Andrew Lang has written code that significantly leverages the information in our private ONS collection. We can now create public links that return the most updated results for specific tags, including multiple tags (which I don't think you can do on Mendeley). For example the following link returns all articles in the ONS collection tagged with "science2.0" and "chemistry":
The results include available information from Mendeley, including the title, authors, journal citation, doi, url, tags and the abstract. Because this information is public the PDFs can't be provided but the hyperlinks make it as convenient as possible.

At the end of the report the full list of all available tags for the ONS collection is provided. A more refined or different search can be done immediately simply by checking boxes and hitting the submit button.Because the tags are controlled by the users of the private collection, these links can be useful when discussing an ongoing project and referring to a very specific topic. For example, we have been collecting examples of articles where a Ugi reaction is carried out and the product precipitates. This link provides an updated report on that very narrow topic:
There are still 2 major limitations to this service:

1) The search is very slow (can take a minute or two) because there is no way currently to use the Mendeley API to selectively return results based on tags. Every search requires initially returning all results for the collection (currently a few hundred).

2) Notes are currently not returned. If the API is updated to include these the usefulness would increase dramatically. For example in the results for the above query I took notes of the conditions involved in the Ugi precipitate for each paper. With the current format, one has to read each paper to find the relevant information.

Progress on our Mendeley related services will be posted on the ONSwebservices wiki.

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At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Mr. Gunn said...

Hi JC! We've started a wiki at

Please feel free to add anything you'd like other Mendeley users to see here. I hesitate to add the above to our wiki as I don't want to slow the service down even further for you, but I'll leave it up to you what you'd like to keep within your circle vs. open up to the larger Mendeley community.


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