How do I use the Mendeley API?

The quick answer is that there are as many uses as there are developers. The long and slightly more informative one is that, whatever your use case or level of expertise, the Mendeley API has something to offer. Our resources are used by all kinds of researchers, as well as the librarians and information professionals who support them. They also inform numerous commercial offerings in the academic space, from new start-ups to established providers. Here’s an overview:


Subject-based problem solvers – We’ve seen a range of discipline-specific solutions implemented by single, or small groups of researchers. These are less often characterized by technical complexity or commercial potential – although some have both – than by their sheer relevance. These solutions are based on a detailed on-the-ground understanding of a particular subject area. A great example is openSNP, which allows customers of direct-to-customer genetic tests to publish their test results, find related results, and gain additional insights from the latest primary literature.

Career developers – There is also a thriving class of solutions developed by researchers to save time, refine processes, and generally make their working lives easier. These are often simple, but can produce liberating efficiencies, like the apps created by biomedical or computer scientists to enhance functions like BibTex export.

Libraries and institutions

Information professionals – The API has also been used extensively by information professionals intent on extending the frontiers of the digital library. These dynamic individuals have developed applications to help researchers write grant applications that incorporate professional stats derived from their institutional repositories and Mendeley.

Knowledge disseminators – These are typically librarians and computer scientists with a deep interest in the way the web is changing science and the opportunities this creates. They use the API to facilitate this process, with an emphasis on the retrieval and discovery of research information.

Institutional evaluators – Experienced programmers based in universities and other research institutions are using our metrics to make a case for the impact of their organizations, departments or scientific programs. This is obviously important in terms of funding and promotion decisions.

Lean start-ups and Big Companies

Start-ups – The Mendeley API is also used by a growing number of innovative start-ups in the academic space. These users facilitate discovery or focus on the evaluation of research, as with Altmetric which tracks and collates a range of metrics to help scholars understand the impact of their work. Other providers support relatively neglected sections of the workflow, like Publons, which helps researchers quantify their peer review work for use in profiles and promotion applications.

Publishers – Established publishers and information providers also use the API. Developers from the likes of PLOS and PeerJ study how researchers find and use content on Mendeley with a view to enhancing their own services. They take advantage of Mendeley’s social features, including comments and recommendations, to increase the engagement of visitors with their respective sites.