Mendeley, makers of a desktop and web application designed to make it easier for academics to manage and discover relevant research papers on any topic, has raised $2 million in early-stage funding from some high-profile investors, including Stefan Glänzer, early seed investor in and former Chairman of Last.fm, former Executive VP of Digital Strategy and Business Development for Warner Music Group Alex Zubillaga and ASI, the investment vehicle of Skype’s former founding engineers.
The connection with the popular social music network Last.fm doesn’t stop there, since the company is pushing to become the “Last.fm for research”, which means the startup essentially aims to enable academics to manage and sharing their research paper inventory and at the same time discover like-minded people and papers thanks to a recommendation and matching algorithm.
I registered for the service and downloaded the Windows version of the desktop app (it’s available for Mac OSX and Linux too) to give it a whirl. First thing I noticed is that you can easily invite fellow academics from your network to join Mendeley based on existing accounts for LinkedIn, Gmail, Windows Live, etc. I also took note of the fact that your profile settings, which include information about your field of research, a CV, etc. automatically has you signed up for the company newsletter, which I think should be optional. My entirely fake public profile can be located here.
The desktop app is actually quite nice: after installation, you can import PDF files using the tool’s “Automatic Medata Extraction” or import your existing library from EndNote XML, BibTeX or RIS files. Mendeley also features a Word Plugin which lets you insert citations and create formatted bibliographies in documents using Microsoft Word 2003/2007. Academics can also upload their own research papers and syncing files and information with the web-based version with just one click of the mouse. Mendeley also boasts features that let members connect with their peers online, and – taking a page from Facebook – the tool also features a newsfeed that displays newly shared or uploaded documents etc.
Mendeley claims to have “scrobbled” data on almost 3 million research papers in just two months, so it’s likely to become one hell of a resource if growth continues and enough academics take notice.
If you know of any others, please share in comments.