Mendeley killed the library connection

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Updated Friday, September 2; 10:58 am:  William Gunn, Director of Scholarly Communications at Elsevier, posted on Twitter that the institution-specific ‘Find Full Text’ connection will soon be back on individual article pages on Mendeley Papers.  Thank you, @MrGunn, for that quick assistance and positive outcome for our users.  

I’m working on a new article related to our scholarly workflow project — exploring the integration of library services within citation management software.  In the article, I review the current level of library-centered connectivity for various tools — Endnote, Zotero, ReadCube, and Mendeley.  ReadCube offers (in my opinion) the most visible integration, asking users to authenticate with their institutional login to retrieve the full text of article PDFs.  ReadCube has also automated a portion of the institutional affiliation process within the software.  They offer a list of institutions for the user to choose from; a choice will automatically populate ReadCube’s preferences with the user’s institutional OpenURL link.  It’s wonderful that ReadCube offers these optimizations; it increases the chances that users will find the full text of their article via their library.

Mendeley used to have some very nice library connectivity options as well.  Those options are now gone.  This Mendeley Blog article from 2011 details the library connection situated within Mendeley’s ‘Get Full Text’ options in the Mendeley catalog.  In a nutshell, users can view the research catalog entry for a specific article.  On the research catalog entry page, the article information was once accompanied by an option to retrieve the full-text of the article in several places, including Google Scholar and the user’s home institution.  I taught this optimization countless times to students, and I know it helped them more readily connect with research articles.  It ensured that my students did not land on unauthenticated journal web pages where they would be confronted with a price for a full text article.

Unfortunately, this option no longer exists.  Mendeley reduced the options on the individual research catalog entry page.  The only option to find full text now is this:

2016-09-02_0854

Get full text at journal is now the only path to an article in full text.  I think the motivation behind this change is pretty clear, and it’s terrible.  This change virtually ensures that a user will (more than likely searching from off campus and unauthenticated) land on a journal article page and see a fee as the only option to purchase a journal article.

While an excellent product, Mendeley has taken a step backwards with this new change.  Is it surprising that it happened?  No.  Selling journal articles to people who may already have access via their home institution is a shallow attempt at additional revenue.  Building lasting connections and seamless integration with libraries and librarians would add depth to their product and ensure continued future adoption by students.  Mendeley needs to do the right thing for their users and reinstate the ‘Get Full Text’ at your institution link.  

 

 

 

Initial Survey Results – Background Information

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* This post is the first of several installments where we will describe our initial findings from our scholarly workflow survey. Our first post focuses on the general background information of our participants.

 

We received 324 full responses to our Personal Scholarly Archiving Survey from a variety of Penn State affiliated individuals.These individuals included graduate students (39%), instructors (2%), fixed-term faculty (16%), tenured faculty (31%), and tenure track (nontenured) faculty (9%).

We had a variety of age groups respond, with individuals ranging in age from 21 to over 60 years old. However, the most frequent responders were from the 21-30 and 31-40 age groups. Slightly more females participated than males, with a ratio of 60/40.

Participants came from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, including the College of Health and Human Development (38%), Eberly College of Science (34%), the College of the Liberal Arts (14%), the College of Education (9%), and the Graduate School (5%). The College of Arts and Architecture, the College of Agricultural Sciences,  the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, and the School of  Medicine each had 1% or less of respondents. The two academic colleges with the most responders were the College of Health and Human Development and the Eberly College of Science.

 

Mellon Scholarly Personal Archiving Project

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Welcome to our home for information, data, and observations relevant to Penn State’s personal scholarly archiving project.  Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this one year qualitative research project seeks to explain and explore the specifics of and anticipated needs regarding the information workflow of disciplinary faculty, and on faculty needs regarding the acquisition of digital literacies essential to effective research management, robust scholarly creation, and continued navigation of the archiving process.

In the weeks and months to come, you’ll see on this blog project photos, updates, profiles of our researchers, presentations, and publications.  We welcome community dialogue, as well as any questions that you may have about the project.  Thank you for your interest in our work!

Benjamin Goldman: Digital Records Archivist

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Benjamin Goldman

Digital Records Archivist
As Digital Records Archivist, Ben is involved with faculty interviews and can speak to issues on long term preservation. After faculty have done all their research and built up a body of work, he is interested in how to keep it around for other people to use in their research later. As an archivist, he is curious about what technologies faculty members use to create anything that may end up in an archive, as well as what their personal archiving habits are, whether they delete often, whether they are using standard or unusual software, and so on.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
Sadly, Ben does not see digital archiving playing as much of a role in society as it used to. A lot of people know that they should back up their information but don’t. Additionally, technology changes quickly, making it hard to keep up with. Ultimately, data growth has skyrocketed because technology allows us to create infinitely more. Ben cites photography practices in the past and present as an example. Photographers were more careful and took less pictures in the past because they had larger cameras and film was extremely expensive. They produced less, yet the photos were of higher quality. Now, it is so easy to take digital photos that the quantity people take are much greater, even though the quality is not always very high. Essentially, the amount of stuff people have to manage has grown so much, which makes it overwhelming for many people. Ben is unsure of whether this will change in the future.

 Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
Ben uses email heavily for professional reasons and personal reasons. Email helps him to collaborate with other people, to communicate, and to move work between various computers. From an archivist’s perspective, email is curious because people started using it and, in some sense, forgot about cleanliness, as shown by how email inboxes often are disorganized with messages sprawled out all over the place.


Eric Novotny: History Librarian

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Eric Novotny

History Subject Librarian
As the history subject librarian, Eric’s main role has been to recruit participants and serve as a liaison for the History Department. He wanted to ensure that the perspective of historians was represented. Eric was also involved with the survey design and is hoping to do analysis specifically with the historians’ survey results. He will also be involved with the follow up focus groups.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
As an historian, Eric has unique archiving needs. The research is usually book intensive and therefore he has accumulated a large body of paper. As part of his work, he has to travel and go to archives around the world to make photocopies of materials, since until very recently most archives wouldn’t allow scholars to make digital copies. Currently, Eric’s archive is a hybrid of paper files stored in drawers and digital files on the computer. He thinks that in the future a global archive would be advantageous and, in his view, it would be very valuable if historians could somehow share all the paper information locked up in their drawers. In the future, he would also like to see a tool in digital archiving that is customized for historians.

Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
Eric finds Google, Google Scholar, library databases, and LionSearch to be extremely helpful during the discovery process when he is conducting research to broaden an idea, like his current project on censorship in the libraries. Once he has identified his specific research, he uses citation tools like Mendeley or Zotero, although he believes that citation management tools are not very well integrated into the work that historians are doing. For example, there are citation issues with nonpublished materials, like diaries, that historians use.

John Meier: Science Subject Librarian

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John Meier

Science Subject Librarian
John has been involved with the project by planning interviews and surveys for the faculty subjects. As the science and technology subject librarian, he represents the College of Agriculture, the College of Health and Human Development, the College of Engineering, the Eberly College of Science, and the College of Information Science and Technology. In his supportive role, he has worked with the deans of the colleges and with the faculty to promote participation.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
John thinks that when it comes to current digital archiving most people assume that it is being done for them. For example, while many people are constantly producing content (such as uploading large amounts of pictures onto Flickr or Facebook), they don’t necessarily see themselves as responsible for backing up their own materials but rather rely on the website(s). Therefore, when it comes to the awareness of the general population, John doesn’t think that we’re fully there yet. However, on the plus side, a certain segment of the population is aware of the need to back up and archive materials, such as using external hard drive.  One positive John sees about digital technology is that it enables us to actually live with less material stuff; even if one loses his/her possessions, he/she may still have photos saved on a website somewhere.

Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
A desktop computer used to be the most pivotal piece of technology for John’s workflow, but now it is his iPad with keyboard, which is much more portable. Portability is essential to John because the amount of time he spends actually sitting at his office desk is less than half the total hours he works during the week.