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

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together