An open system

April 14, 2016

It’s useful to have articles questioning the role of for-profit services in the academic sector (“Do academic social networks share academics’ interests?”, Features, 7 April). However, it is somewhat less useful for surveys of academic social network usage that do not address such issues to be misused as a jumping-off point for that discussion.

In a more considered analysis, one can see that Mendeley has aligned itself so that it becomes more valuable as the scholarly ecosystem grows stronger and more diverse. If we truly want a “distributed commons with shared governance”, we need to embrace the idea of an ecosystem of applications that fits the diverse needs of various fields rather than one monolithic site that aims to be everything for everyone. Millions of academics, publishers, institutions, non-profits and start-ups actively use our site and we are proud of our role in the ecosystem.

A few points of clarification are in order: 1. This is absolutely not a horse race. Academia.edu, Mendeley and Researchgate are all distinct entities. Winner-takes-all dynamics are not in play here. 2. The survey asked specifically about profiles, not about total activity with a given service, making the comparisons between sites entirely unsupported by the data in the survey. 3. Mendeley is the only site of the three mentioned above that has an open application programme interface (API) and from which you can freely export your data. Given the closing statement about the ethics of open systems, it is worth pointing this out. There are hundreds of applications that now leverage the Mendeley API, demonstrating our commitment to an ecosystem view of scholarly communication. 4. There are many other sites such as ORCID and Impact Story that provide data portability without proprietary rankings and vendor lock-in. These people deserve plenty of credit for what they do, even if it is still relatively early days for some.

William Gunn
Director of scholarly communication
Mendeley


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest