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 3 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

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show