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Niven Library - FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology Library Guide: Manage your pdfs with Mendeley

The library supports a number of themes - African ornithology, conservation biology, Antarctic and sub-antarctic biology, specifically birds.

Mendeley now the property of Elsevier Publishing House

Mendeley was initially an independent free reference manager which was purchased by Elsevier during 2013.  At present the software remains free to users.

Elsevier has recently introduced a Mendeley Institutional Edition. This offers an Analytics Dashboard to provide support for "institutional information objectives and researcher needs."  Premium Upgrades and Institutional Services are also offered.

The Basic Individual version remains free. A comparative table of what is on offer through Basic Individual and Mendeley Institutional can by found through the link given above.

Troubleshooting Mendeley

What to do if Mendeley freezes at the "login" screen of the startup phase.

This appears to be a proxy server problem.  A number of solutions are suggested by Mendeley, such as trying different browsers to do the installation, i.e. use IE or Google Chrome or Firefox.  If this still does not work you may have to circumvent the UCT proxy server by using a 3G card.  Once you have Mendeley installed on your PC or laptop you need to apply the following fix:

Right click on the Mendeley icon, go to properties, and insert in the "Target" box AFTER the quotation marks + one space:
--setting General_FirstRun:false
hit apply and then ok. Then re-open from that shortcut.
Thanks to Jessica Greenston, CB 2012, for finding the fix!
You can also go and look at the Mendeley FAQ  - Troubleshooting is at the bottom of the page

Mendeley for iPad and iPhone

The New Mendeley for iPad and iPhone [23 September 2013] is available for free on the app store

Some of the features of this app:

  • Redesigned from the ground up to deliver the best possible mobile experience
  • Highlight important text and record your thoughts with sticky notes
  • Sync highlights and notes to Mendeley Desktop on Windows, Mac, or Linux
  • Sync wirelessly without interrupting your workflow
  • Easily tap-to-download full-text files
  • Fullscreen reading in any orientation
  • Explore papers related to the one you’re reading
  • Supports nested folders in your library and groups
  • Easily tag documents or add them to folders

Click through the link above to read more about each of these features.



Are you looking for an Android version of Mendeley?  Then Droideley is for you.

In the words of the Mendeley developers: “We are not currently working on an Android internally; instead we are putting our efforts into improving our API to allow the many talented developers out there to make awesome applications.  

Features of the Droideley application are:  

synchronizing with your Mendeley library and downloading the stored documents; providing filtering options (folder, author, tag);  using to search the global Mendeley database.

Go to the website to find out more about the Droideley capabilities


Importing OA Pdfs to Mendeley Desktop

There are a number of steps to importing a pdf:

  • Identifiy the article you wish to save, before opening the pdf online, click on 'Save to Mendely' tab on your browser tabs (see the Importing Citations entry below for instructions to install this tab).  
  • This opens the 'Save to Mendeley' App which identifies the pdf and creates the bibliographic information for the pdf.  
  • Check the 'Download PDFs if available' box
  • Identify the component of your Mendeley Library to which you wish to add the pdf, add tags if you are using tags, add any notes.  
  • Click on Save.

You are now given the option to Open in Mendeley.  If your browser is blocking cookies, you will have to resolve this.  Instructions are given to enable you to allow Mendeley to add the pdf metadata to your Mendeley Desktop.  

  • Click on Launch Application.  You will now find the bibliographic details of the paper in Mendeley Desktop.  There is one more step to add the pdf to your collection.
  • Click on 'View research catalog entry' for this paper, in the bibliographic details for the paper.  This will launch your Mendeley Sync site which will display the details of the pdf you have requested.  
  • Click on Save PDF to library.  If you are not signed into your Mendeley Sync account you will be prompted to do so.
  • Click on the words Sign in, which are below the large button 'Create a free account'.
  • Mendeley Sync will now prompt you to click on the ' View (the pdf) in Mendeley Desktop'.
  • A Launch application box enables you to choose where to download the pdf.  
  • Click on OK if you wish the pdf to go to Mendeley Desktop (the default) or choose an alternative destination.
  • Click on the download icon to the left of the citation and this will open the pdf in Mendeley Desktop.

Advanced searching in Mendeley

Mendeley Desktop supports a set of features that allow for you to perform much more powerful searches. You can use any number of these advanced queries within the search box in the top right of Mendeley Desktop.

Searching specific fields:

You can narrow down which fields Mendeley Desktop should search for your specific keyword by using the following syntax, field:search term. Just replace the field with one of the values from the list below, for which fields you want to search.

  • author, by, contributor, name: You can use any one of these keywords to specify that your term should only be searched for within a reference's authors, editors or translators. For example, author:Smith and name:Smith are both the same, and will search for references that have Smith in their authors, editors or translators.
  • keyword: This will limit your search term to matching just the author's keywords for a document.
  • publication: You can search amongst your references' journal titles or publications by using this keyword.
  • tag: Using 'tag' will allow for you to search amongst documents that have a tag that contain your term.
  • title: If you wish to search amongst just your reference titles, you can do so by using 'title'.

To match a phrase, as opposed to a single word, against a keyword, you can just wrap the search term in quotation marks ("). publication:"Science Weekly" would return all of your references that were published in "Science Weekly".

Logical operators:

By default, if you enter more than one search term into Mendeley Desktop, it will search only for documents that match all of the terms entered. You can change this behaviour through the use of the OR keyword. By placing this in between two search terms, Mendeley Desktop will present a list of results that satisfy either of the search terms.

ponies OR "small horses" would provide a list of references that contain either "ponies" or "small horses" as opposed to only showing documents that have both of these terms.

You can also exclude documents that match certain terms from featuring in search results by placing a "-" before the search term. For example, entering horse -mare into the search box would return documents that feature "horse" but exclude those mentioning "mare".

Creating New citation styles

Mendeley is currently using the CSL (citation style language) specification for the citation styles used in Mendeley Desktop. The format specifications and some instructions on how to modify, or create your own citation styles can be found at: A repository of currently available styles can also be found at: The citation style files used by Mendeley Desktop are located in the "citationStyles" sub-directory of the folder where Mendeley Desktop is installed. Adding new formatted .csl citation style files, or modifying existing ones will make them available in Mendeley Desktop. We're currently developing a citation style editor to be included in future releases

Importing Citations

With Mendeley's "One-Click Importer" you can import references from a range of different services including Web of Science; Science Direct; JStor; PLoS and many more. 

To install the Web Importer, log in to Mendeley Desktop, Click on Tools, Click on Install Web Importer and follow the instructions on the screen.  Firstly log in to your Mendeley Web Interface, drag the "Save to Mendeley toolbar" to your bookmarks toolbar.  Check whether the service is offered by Mendeley, and then locate the document you wish to import.

Click on the bookmark you made earlier on your bookmarks toolbar. Mendeley will automatically import this document, and the associated PDF file if possible.  A pop up window will give the details of the citation and ask you to save this to your Mendeley Library, click on the button Save to Library.

If you want to see the new reference in Mendeley Desktop, click on View in your Mendeley Library, and then click on View in Mendeley Desktop.  If you wish to link the citation to a pdf and the process did not install the associated PDF, this has to be downloaded separately and then linked manually to the citation. Scroll down the citation in the box on the right hand side of the Mendeley Desktop Screen, until you get to Files, click on add files and locate the PDF.