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Capstone and Thesis Research: Organize your research

What Is Mendeley?

Mendeley is a free reference manager and PDF organizer; it's also a research networking site that puts you in touch with an international community.

Use Mendeley to:

  • save and organize research articles and docs (about 3,000 PDFs in the free version);
  • annotate (add your own notes and highlights to) sections of interest in saved articles;
  • generate reference lists and citations for reports and papers.

Although you can register for a Mendeley account without downloading the program to your laptop or desktop computer, we highly recommend you do so! This allows you install the Word plug-in and Web Importer which are the real powers behind Mendeley.

After downloading, you can sync your accumulating full text article library with Mendeley's mobile apps for anywhere access (iPad, iPhone, Android).

Also available in fee-based versions (with more storage).

Further Explorations....

For further info on Mendeley and similar information management tools, check out:

  Citation Managers Comparison (U of Wisconsin)

Getting Started

First-time setup takes about 15-20 minutes depending on your computer's download speed. Here are the basic steps:

1. Watch the brief video in the Mendeley Intro Video box.

2. Go to and create your account.

3. Download the Mendeley Application to your laptop or desktop computer.

4. Drag the Web Importer Tool to your browser's toolbar; this makes adding PDFs a piece of cake!.

5. Install the Citation Plugin so that Mendeley can format your references for papers and reports.  You do this by going to Mendeley Desktop, then Tools > Install MS Word Plug in

6. Very important for 1st-time setup: select the Organize my files option when configuring Mendeley Desktop!

  • This ensures any PDFs you add will be stored in Mendeley's data directory; otherwise, a PDF you've added to Mendeley can vanish when you delete the original file from your computer.
  • Mendeley can then rename the PDF in a logical manner using the article title and author name.

--On MS Windows, open Mendeley Desktop and select: Tools > Options > File Organizer, then check Organize my files.

--On Mac OSX, open Mendeley Desktop and select: Mendeley Desktop > Preferences… > File Organizer, then check Organize my files.

Organizing Your Library

As you add documents to your Mendeley Library, you'll quickly see the importance of organizing your files! Also, learning how to annotate the documents in your library will make it easy to emphasize important points.  Watch this video for some tips.

Tag your Research