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Scientometrics. 2017;112(3):1537-1556. doi: 10.1007/s11192-017-2438-3. Epub 2017 Jun 22.

Online distribution channel increases article usage on Mendeley: a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, Clinician-Investigator Program, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada.
Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada.
Data Science Team, TrendMD Inc., MaRS Discovery District, West Tower, 661 University Avenue, #465, Toronto, M5G 1M1 ON Canada.
Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada.
University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada.
Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit, University Health Network, Toronto, ON Canada.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON Canada.
Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Techna Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, ON Canada.


Prior research shows that article reader counts (i.e. saves) on the online reference manager, Mendeley, correlate to future citations. There are currently no evidenced-based distribution strategies that have been shown to increase article saves on Mendeley. We conducted a 4-week randomized controlled trial to examine how promotion of article links in a novel online cross-publisher distribution channel (TrendMD) affect article saves on Mendeley. Four hundred articles published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research were randomized to either the TrendMD arm (n = 200) or the control arm (n = 200) of the study. Our primary outcome compares the 4-week mean Mendeley saves of articles randomized to TrendMD versus control. Articles randomized to TrendMD showed a 77% increase in article saves on Mendeley relative to control. The difference in mean Mendeley saves for TrendMD articles versus control was 2.7, 95% CI (2.63, 2.77), and statistically significant (p < 0.01). There was a positive correlation between pageviews driven by TrendMD and article saves on Mendeley (Spearman's rho r = 0.60). This is the first randomized controlled trial to show how an online cross-publisher distribution channel (TrendMD) enhances article saves on Mendeley. While replication and further study are needed, these data suggest that cross-publisher article recommendations via TrendMD may enhance citations of scholarly articles.


Academic journals; Article usage; Bibliometrics; Impact; Knowledge dissemination; Mendeley; Randomized controlled trial; TrendMD

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