Categories: Reference Manager
Availability: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Android, iOS
Uses: Organisation, Productivity, Research, Project Management

What is it?
Mendeley is a reference manager that can be used to organise references and citations for personal and group projects. It is also marketed as a social network for researchers as you can create profiles, follow other researchers, create networks and share your citations with others. It’s available on computer and mobile devices so you can sync your data and have your material accessible from any of your devices.

How can I use it?
Mendeley can be used by individuals but citations can be shared easily with others to make it a powerful tool for group projects or other collaborative work. An idea for how to get started is to create groups based on projects or classes and upload or save some references to these groups. You can then invite others to join the groups and collaborate and share resources. Mendeley is free to use but also has paid plans for heavy users or to unlock additional features. 

To get started:

  • Register for a free Mendeley account at
    • You will be asked to add your name and email and choose a password
    • Then you will be asked to add some information for your profile (which you can skip if you prefer) and choose to make your profile public
  • You will be prompted to download and install Mendeley on your computer. (
  • This is a useful step as the desktop app offers a focused interface for your references
  • On first log in you will be prompted and guided through various steps of using Mendeley. 
  • Click on the “Library” tab at the top of the screen. 
  • Add papers that you have saved on your computer by dragging and dropping them to Mendeley or clicking in the designated space and uploading them manually.
  • When you have uploaded a file, click on the name to reveal more information in the panel on the right of the screen. Here you can add details about the document or check on the details that have been automatically added.
  • Double click on the file name to open the file in your browser. You can use the menu at the top of the screen to highlight and comment on the document.
  • With the file selected, click “Add to” at the top of the file list to add it to a folder or mark as a favourite document.
  • Create a folder to organise your references by clicking “Create Folder…” in the left panel
  • Create a new group by clicking on “Groups” at the bottom of the panel on the left (this can also be accessed by clicking “Groups” in the menu at the top of the screen
    • Click to create a new group, giving it a name, a description and a general discipline (from list) and choose to make it public, invite only or private.
  • Invite others to join the group by clicking “Invite members” and entering their email address. 

Why should I use it?
Many students casually save their references in a variety of places making it difficult to find them when it matters. Mendeley’s import feature allows you to quickly import the references you may have saved elsewhere (e.g. EndNote, Zotero, etc.) and keep them all in one spot.  

You can create groups in Mendeley to share documents with particular users, for instance a class group, with colleagues or family. When you create a new group, whether public, invite only or private, your group is provided with a space to discuss and share files making it very useful for class groups or for student projects.

Mendeley lets you preview and annotate resources and documents, saving your comments with the file on your Mendeley account so that all your notes are easily accessible later. 

Mendeley has a very useful Web Plugin that lets you quickly save resources to your Mendeley account and import documents from the web directly to your Mendeley account. In addition, Mendeley has a Citation Plugin for Microsoft Word that helps you to import, collate and cite your references from Mendeley within your Word file which is a real time saver.

Top Tips
Use the folders feature in Mendeley to organise and manage your references based on class groups, topics, projects, etc.

Adding a profile is a useful step if you want to connect with others or receive suggestions of who to follow. If you choose to keep your profile you will still be offered suggestions of other popular users (those with high followings or very active users).

Where can I find it?
Unless otherwise stated, all reviews and recommendations are solely those of the Department of Technology Enhanced Learning team and do not reflect the views or opinions of any organisation, including Cork Institute of Technology. The Department is not responsible for any inappropriate, offensive or illegal content viewed or accessed through the tools and products reviewed.