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Review Scholarley (Beta)
Your reference database via Mendeley
Author: Tariq Abdulla
Date: 06 Jun 2017, tested on HTC One S
Powerful functionality, functions quickly, fully-featured free version
Scholarley for Android is a client for the desktop reference management system Mendeley. When Mendeley (now owned by Elsevier) was released by a startup in 2008, it shook the world of (literature) research to its foundations. OK, maybe the rest of the world didn’t notice, but it made my life back then as a PhD student a lot more efficient and fun. Now every researcher uses it, and nobody can remember how we survived before. So Scholarley will be of interest to people doing academic research, and also students from high school upwards, as well as people who need to deal with a lot of references in their work.
Mendeley is named after Gregory Mendel, the “father of modern genetics” (the scientist-monk who bred peas). Famously, Darwin was unaware of Mendel’s discoveries; because in those days you couldn’t just Google: “inherited characteristics”. You had to know what you were looking for first, and then go to a library and hunt for it using the volume, issue and page numbers. The academic world is so old-fashioned that we are still forcing people to use these numbers in all references today; even though you would have to be mad to look for papers that way. Mendeley has meant that: 1) we don’t need to write references out by hand ever again, and 2) we can actually navigate the vast ocean of relevant literature that we are meant to have some kind of handle on; search through the full texts of everything we’re interested in, to find and reference the relevant information instantly. It is absolutely critical.
So why would I want a massive synchronised database of all the academic literature I’ve read and glanced at in the last few years available on my phone or tablet? I’m not about to write a paper on my phone; though I could do some work on a tablet. I might want to just find something quickly in some cases; e.g. to email someone an interesting paper. More likely, I may want to just catch up on some reading while travelling etc. As I put anything new I find into Mendeley straightaway, I can always see the latest things I’m reading in the Scholarley client, and download them to read in my favourite PDF viewer. I can refer back to documents from some time ago whenever I need to. Or I want to use a group to keep on top of the latest papers in a particular area, or to check out the latest "Creatively Named Research Papers"
The search and filtering features of Scholarley work very well. The UI isn’t that intuitive, but is practical and works fine once you understand it. It has all the document details, starring or unstarring, filters that can be customised, and supports batch downloads. It’s a good app, and an impressive achievement considering that it’s been developed by one individual, while working on PhD. Until they finally release a full featured version of Mendeley for Android (as they keep teasing us), Scholarley will continue to be the best way for researchers to access up-to-date references on Android devices.