Transforming scholarly search with Mendeley


We’re doing a study on scholarly search behaviors, and whether we can use Mendeley libraries to productively personalize academic search results. We’re looking for participants to help us by installing a Firefox plugin to record their scholarly searches for a month, letting us gather information from their Mendeley library use, and doing a short exit interview. We’re paying participants $50 USD.

Study Goals

Collect qualitative data on how researchers organize their research publications using personal information management tools;

Collect qualitative data on how users search for research publications using on-line search engines; and

Investigate whether information derived from a researcher’s personal library of research publications can be used to personalize search engine results.


Must use Mendeley to store your scholarly reference collection.

Must do at least 100 scholarly searches for the month of the study.


Depending on which search engine you typically use to do your scholarly searching, you’ll be assigned to one of two experimental groups: A and B.

If assigned to group A, you will install a Firefox browser that will record all your scholarly searches for one month and then you will submit the logs to the investigators. The plugin records URLs, clicks, and scrolls. We do not want to record non-scholarly searches or browsing.It’s private, and it doesn’t relate to our study. We expect you to turn on plugin recording right before you do a scholarly search, and off as soon as you’re done. It sounds hard to remember, but we’ve found participants get used to it pretty quickly.

If you typically use Google Scholar to do your scholarly searches, you will be assigned to group B. You will install a similar plugin as group A, except that the plugin for group B automatically records your interactions when you are in the Google Scholar domain ( and stops recording when you are not.

The plugin logs are stored on your local computer, and we can’t see them until you email them to us at the end of your month. Everything is stored in two simple text files; if you accidentally record a search you didn’t want to, you can easily delete it from the logs before you submit them. You can also inspect the text files before you submit them, to make sure you’re not sending us anything you don’t want to; we encourage you to do this.

We’ll analyze the search logs, and also download all the information from your Mendeley library. To do this you’ll need to authorize us through Mendeley, but you won’t need to give us your password.  We ask a subset of the participants to also take part in an interview at the end of the study, to help us learn more about your searching and the possible utility of our search personalization approach.  


Oversight for this study is provided by the UNC Chapel Hill Institutional Review Board for Social and Behavioral Research.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact Dr. Jaime Arguello (


To participate, just follow the steps on the study instructions page..