London-based startup Mendeley, which provides a desktop and web program for managing and sharing research papers and collaborating online has hit a milestone as its database queries passes 100m API calls per month.

More than 240 applications for research, visualisation, semantic markup and discovery get their data flow from the company which helps more people access academic work and surfaces information that is useful.

The company refers to itself as a “Wikipedia for academic data” where users in the global community of 1.9 million researchers have created a shared database of 65 million unique documents. Mendeley says that this covers around 97.2% to 99.5% of all research articles published. That’s a pretty impressive resource.

mendeley520 Mendeleys open science and research platform hits 100 million API calls per month

Commercial databases tend to hold far fewer documents and access to their databases is licensed to universities for tens of thousands of dollars per year.

In contrast, Mendeley’s database is freely accessible under a Creative Commons license, and it is the only one that allows third-party developers to build their own tools with the research data anywhere on the web, on mobile devices, or on the desktop.

The company feels that crowdsourcing data adds a social layer to academic work and sharing. Each document comes with anonymised real-time information about the academic status, field of research, current interests, location of, and keywords generated by its readers.

Mendeley’s API also adds information about related research documents and public groups on Mendeley that the document is being discussed in.

A need for speed

The most popular apps built on Mendeley’s platform fulfil a need for faster and more granular metrics of scientific impact: ReaderMeter and Total-Impact display a researcher’s or a labs’ real-time impact on the academic community, while Mendeley itself recently announced the first sales of its real-time research impact dashboard to academic institutions around the globe.

Hojoki pulls updates from Mendeley and other productivity tools like Evernote and Basecamp into a common newsfeed. Kleenk allows users to create free-form semantic links between documents in their Mendeley library and share them publicly. OpenSNP, winner of Mendeley’s $10,001 Binary Battle prize, makes the connection between raw genetic data and published research.

Open science following

The field of open science is growing and has fans in other areas of more open research and crowdsourced information. Dario Taraborelli, Senior Research Analyst at the Wikimedia Foundation and creator of ReaderMeter.org, said: “By sharing a large corpus of open-licensed data, Mendeley is laying the foundation for a whole new science of the making and spreading of scientific knowledge. This offers coders and researchers alike an unprecedented opportunity to map and measure the real-time impact of scientific research. Mendeley’s API is a mountain of data just waiting to be mined.”

Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media and also a Mendeley Binary Battle judge, added: “This milestone shows how the future of science is being built, app by app, data source by data source. Open data is the biggest science story of the 21st century.”

With over a 100 million API calls per month, it looks as though the practice of sharing scientific research in new and open ways is something that more researchers are looking for as they push the boundaries of their field.

Image Credit: Striactic