I've started using Mendeley and noticed that the automatically generated references don't always standardize - for example sometimes a doi would show up, but sometimes not. I try checking the info to make sure that all that's needed is in there when I import documents.

Due to this I've started typing in citations by hand. But I would still like to use the handy citation so it doesn't interrupt my flow. Has anyone had this problem? Is there something else I should do?

  • All you need to do is insert the DOI and press the search button, then every information available should be imported. – user64845 Dec 17 '17 at 18:42

Mendeley attempts to extract metadata (title, authors etc) from article PDFs by searching through the PDF content. Since different publishers format their PDFs in different ways, sometimes Mendeley gets more information (e.g. a DOI) and sometimes it gets less. This is not a problem unique to Mendeley – Zotero has struggled with it, too.

There is an article on the Mendeley Support website called 'How does the automatic document details extraction work?' that explains the process in slightly more detail.

Automated metadata extraction is likely to remain imperfect until publishers consistently produce PDFs with standardised data. Several organisations have made progress on this, but it is not yet a solved problem. Until then, if you want good-quality references then it may be best either to generate them manually or to edit Mendeley's automated references by adding missing information.

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