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Mendeley is a free citation and research manager similar to Endnote. This page offers information that will help you create and build a reference library and use Mendeley to add properly formatted references to your papers.

Adding references

Mendeley operates much like Endnote in that is intended for you to add references to your library by adding physical documents. You can add in PDFs, Word documents, HTML files from webpages or anything of your choosing. Adding references is simple. In the main Mendeley window, click on the Add Files button to add your documents. Browse to where the document is located and and select it. It will be added to your library. Mendeley will attempt to read the file for citation information like author or title, but this process is imperfect at best.

Adding references in Mendeley

After you've added a document, you should review the citation to make sure it has been correctly added to your library. See our next section on how to do this.

Reviewing Added References

After you've added the document to your library you need to make sure the citation was recorded correctly. Helpfully, Mendeley features a Recently Added folder inside your library where you can see what documents that you've recently added to see if the citations look correct. It's best to scan over the entire citation to make sure the needed information is there like authors, title, publication, year, pages numbers and what have you.

Recently added folder in Mendeley

If you've used the Watched Folder option on a folder with many documents, then you may need to spend a bit of time reviewing the citations after you've imported the large number of documents, but this step is crucial. Otherwise, when you go to cite the document while writing, the citation may not be correct.

Adding references from databases

Since Mendeley is intended to manage documents, using it to import references from online databases isn't always easy. Mendeley does offer a bookmarklet that will allow you to import references from selected databases into your library. Mendeley supports databases like: EBSCO, Google Scholar, ISI Web of Knowledge, JSTOR, PubMed, Sage, ScienceDirect, SpringerLink and Wiley along with individual journal publishers like Nature, PLoS and PNAS. For a full listing, see Mendeley's site for their bookmarklet.

Once you've installed the bookmarklet, you will need to be signed in to your online Mendeley account. When you want to import references from supported sites, click on the Save to Mendeley button in your bookmarks toolbar, like so:

Importing references to Mendeley from PubMed

The bookmarlet will open up a list of references that it has located on the page. From there, you can save the reference(s) to your online account. Now you need to click on the Sync button in your desktop Mendeley program to retrieve the references and, if available, PDFs of the articles.

Currently Mendeley does not offer the ability to retrieve documents through UNC's subscriptions like Zotero, RefWorks and Endnote. For best results, you need to download the PDFs of the references that you are interested in so you can easily access the full-text articles in the future. If you are on campus then you may be able to open the article in your web browser and view it in full text. If you want to access the article in full text in the future, then it's best to go ahead and download the PDF of the article through UNC's databases while on campus.

Opening a reference in a browser in Mendeley

Dragging & dropping references in to Mendeley

If you're at a journal page, you can drag and drop the PDF directly from the site to Mendeley. To do this, have both your browser and Mendeley windows open side by side. When you click on the download PDF link at the journal page, you can just drag it over the Mendeley window and it will be automatically added to your library. No need to worry about saving PDFs.

Mendeley's site has a video demonstrating this process here:

Additionally, here's a screenshot demonstration. Some journals like Nature and any document at JSTOR may not work directly from the PDF link since that link opens a new window. At that new window you will be able to drag and drop the file into Mendeley.

Dragging PDFs in to Mendeley

Adding Notes and Highlighting

Once you have a document in your library, Mendeley allows you the ability to add notes to the document and to highlight selected portions. To do this, double click on the document that you're interested in and Mendeley will open the document like so:

Notes and Highlighting in Mendeley

At the top of the viewer, you will have a variety of options available to you. If you are interested in adding a note to text, then you can Select the text that you would like to add a note, right click and select Add Note. As you can see in the example, Mendeley will keep track of the notes that you've added and you can double click on the note for Mendeley to scroll the screen to the text that has the note attached to it.

If you want to highlight the text, then you can click on the Highlight option and now the text that you select will be highlighted.

The ability to select text, add highlights to portions of text and for the text to be searchable in Mendeley depends on the document that you've added. Some older PDFs are not "searchable"; this is especially common on governmental PDFs from sources like the CDC. If this happens, you can still add notes to individual pages and them show up in the notes section, but they will not be attached to the text quite as nicely as other documents. Additionally, you will not be able to use the search feature in Mendeley to find words inside the PDF.

You can also add document level notes using the Notes section in the top righthand section. These notes are attached to the document and allow you to search through your library for those notes. As you can see in the following example, I have added the note ANOVA to a document and when I searched my library, it not only returned the documents that have ANOVA in the text, but also the ANOVA note that I added to the document.

Searching notes in Mendeley