reference management, research

Marvellous Mendeley, or how to combine critical reading with cava on the Costa Brava


I really love Mendeley, the reference manager I use to organise all my papers. I love that it syncs between home and uni computers. I love the excellent search function, which means I don’t have to bother filing papers. I love that it’s easy to find what I need, easy to highlight sections of a paper of interest to me, and easy to annotate papers with rude critical comments. And it’s free, too, how cool is that?

And now I have a new reason to love it. I just returned from a holiday in Spain and, since we were flying Ryanair, I had to take the world’s smallest amount of hand luggage for the week. So I managed to squeeze in a tiny laptop and flash drive onto which I’d downloaded a bunch of papers to read. Only the laptop wouldn’t connect to the internet, and the flash drive decided to give up the ghost. After I’d read an excellent dead tree book (‘On Writing Well’, I will review it soon), I became a bit frustrated at having lots of time but no way of reading for my PhD.

That was when I discovered that I could access all my Mendeley papers using my iPod Touch via wifi. There’s an app for that. Actually, my iPod is so old that I didn’t have the right iOS version for the app (reason to buy a new iPod I reckon, or better still an iPad…) but I was still able to open my PDFs via the website and read them online. It was a very pleasant experience to go for a run and then read my PDFs in the sun with a glass of wine. I suspect the app allows you to annotate PDFs directly, which would be handier than my old-school pen and notebook. If anyone has any experiences of the app, I’d love to hear about them.

For the plane journey home, I downloaded a few of the papers onto my Dropbox app and favourited them (is that even a verb? It’s rather a hideous word, sorry!) so that I could read them offline. I could also have used my iPhone, but after listening to a radio interview en route to the airport with a woman who downloaded Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits to her phone, inadvertently spending £27,000 in the process, I turned off data roaming and didn’t dare touch my phone all holiday!

Thank you, Mendeley. For my next holiday, I’m leaving the laptop at home and I’ll be able to squeeze in more running kit. Now, if only Mendeley could make me run faster, my life would be complete.



Photo Flickr CC, thanks to Alexander Levin,


2 thoughts on “Marvellous Mendeley, or how to combine critical reading with cava on the Costa Brava

  1. You know, at Mendeley, we often hear that we make people’s research time better, but we don’t often hear that we make vacations better too. I’ll share this around the office & glad you’re enjoying the iOS app. And yes, you should really see it on the ipad 😉

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