2,524 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
Academia has not traditionally been considered a field that embraces an open mentality or makes use of the social aspects of the internet. While initiatives like MIT’s OpenCourseware have begun to buck the trend, most academic research is still hidden from the public – think of research publications, which bury content behind paywalls that can cost institutions and individuals thousands of dollars to unlock.
That hasn’t stopped one London-based startup, Mendeley, from working around the restrictions and attempting to change this dated attitude.
Mendeley is an open source research management platform. Since its founding three years ago, its community of 1.9 million researches has crowdsourced 65 million unique documents. The startup claims this accounts for 97.2 to 99.5 percent of all research articles published. Not all of the articles are available to all users – most are still hidden behind paywalls imposed by publishers. Access to the articles is not where the platform’s value lies, however.
Mendeley has managed to attract a number of independent developers to its platform. Taking advantage of the platform’s wealth of data, these developers created over 240 applications for research, collaboration, discovery, visualization, measurement and more. Earlier this week, Mendeley announced that it was fielding over 100 million API calls per month to its database from these applications.
As TechCrunch points out, there are other platforms and databases that offer similar services. But Mendeley is the only one that allows developers to create applications to build on top of the platform and offers access to its database for free.
Universities are slowly starting to embrace Mendeley and the open source model it stands for. Earlier this month, for example, a number of universities signed up for Mendeley’s new data dashboard, which analyzes an institution’s research activity and “impact on the global research community in real time."
Mendeley has potential and can lead the way in making academia more open and interactive. The vibrant ecosystem growing around the platform shows that the ideas are there. It’s up to academic institutions to ensure that these ideas have a chance to grow into meaningful innovative products and services.