What are the advantages of Mendeley over Bibsonomy?

Is it easy to migrate from Bibsonomy to Mendeley?

Does Mendeley offer equally powerful bibliography exportation?

In detail, the following disadvantages of Bibsonomy are crucial for me:

  • you can not modify all your bibliographies at once, e.g. exchange in every URL field each # with \#
  • many references are not present, so I have to import the bibtex myself
  • search functionality could be better.

Does Mendeley solve these disadvantages?

  • 2
    See also academia.stackexchange.com/questions/36/… Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 10:01
  • You ask two questions (Bibsonomy vs Mendeley and how to migrate from Bibsonomy to Mendeley) in one thread, which is not the best suited for SE. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 13:13
  • Sorry about that. I thought all my questions were so closely related that I should ask them in one thread.
    – DaveBall
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 13:33
  • 3
    You shouldn't replace # with \# manually in the database in the first place. Use \usepackage{url}, and enclose urls in \url{} commands, which should handle special characters automatically. Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 6:56
  • @Federico Poloni: Thanks for your comment. My bibtex-style wraps \url{} around the URL bibtex field. I still have problems with #. The URL manual says that If the argument contains any “%”, “#” or “^^”, or ends with “\”, it can’t be used in the argument to another command.
    – DaveBall
    Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 8:22

3 Answers 3


Yes, Mendeley does offer export - BibTex, RIS, and EndNote XML.

The search is pretty decent, though I often find I use Acrobat search instead - its word-stemming seems better.

Batch replacement is very weak - the only way to do it is to go into the database yourself and tweak it. Very unsatisfactory. There is some batch update, in that you can select several papers, and add the same metadata to all in one go: but that's not the same as a batch search & replace. The one batch search & replace it does do very well is that when you get two versions of an author's name, you can drag one name onto the other, and all the papers will get updated accordingly.

I've also found the technical support to be very slow, and often unsatisfactory.

The auto-grab of references from the web is patchy, and you may find you're often correcting it. Often, its guesses seem utterly bonkers, like it's just grabbed a few general words from the title, and gone off to find the closest match for those, in some subject that's completely alien to me.

The interface is klutzy, though I've yet to find a reference manager that had an interface I did like.

Earlier versions of Mendeley did occasionally corrupt the metadata, doing things like swapping round the lead and second author - unbelievably frustrating. This may have stopped now - I don't use Mendeley so much any more, because of this and other problems.

Mendeley does have its evangelists, and it seems to have been very slick at cultivating its fanbase - more resources seem to have been spent there than on the software. The feedback forum has now become pretty much unusable - there are plenty of important things in there that have been "planned" or awaiting assessment for 2 or 3 years.


I haven't got the chance to use Bibsonomy, since I use Mendeley since the beginning.

Concerning your questions:

  • You don't have to import bibtex files in Mendeley(although you can), you just simply drag and drop a pdf file to Mendeley, and Mendely will grab the title, user, publication details for you, which is the best thing about Mendeley.
  • Search function in Mendeley is quite satisfactory.
  • As for modification, I don't have the experience in doing that. Since Mendeley grab the things for you, I guess there is no need to do that.

Also after you registered in Mendely, your references will be uploaded to your account. So when you reinstall your system or something, all your references will come back.

Mendeley is quite great and has other great functions, totally worth trying!


I've got impression that Mendeley is pushing energy into something that is not the desktop software for sure. I had 2 years break from my sci efforts and after that period I've installed fresh new version of the desktop software and found few things:

  1. my online cloud/repository was crashing desktop software immediately after start (after connection is made)
  2. I've just created new username after realizing there is no way to reuse my old account (tried to delete all via web interface but no luck)

So the cloud argument: hm, proved not to be to reliable.

Then I noticed few bugs that blown my mind.

It was all fine before but now (LibreOffice plugin): you click "insert citation" it minimizes Mendeley Desktop (!?! yes, you are at LibreOffice but for no apparent reason, it minimizes the Mendeley Desktop even it is on the second screen), opens popup window within the LibreOffice where you have to know exactly what you want to cite - but, your cursor is not refocused to the input field (HA!). You say: ok, let's see what I was about to cite: you open Mendeley from the task bar and then: HA! the popup window is gone! Then you click "insert citation" again - and guess what: it does the same thing, with the windows again!

So, you might thought that multi-display environment is common in scientific community - but no, you're wrong: apparently 99% of Mendeley users have single screen and find this show&hide game amusing. At least, such impression I've got from low votes on this issue on their support/suggestion issue rank list.

I'm still using the Mendeley because I'm so used to. But if you're a new user, having a learning/adaptation curve to pass anyway: try something else first.

Mendeley does have very good auto-discovery solution for any PDF you put in watched folder(s). Few fantastic features it has, in that direction like auto online search for more data for existing entry. But then some really stupid bugs make you crazy: like you manually edit a field, then open another entry and come back to the edited one: HA! you see the old data, the update you just typed in vanished. I'm still trying to understand a pattern there: because it's like every 4th modification is just ignored, at least in my case.

To me it seems they have to stop with development of new features and go back to fix the stuff that was fine before, but suddenly became buggy for no reason. I wish it is an open source project so I can jump into the code and disable this "now you see me, now you don't" game of the windows. It kills me.

(this is comment, not answer)

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