May 23, 2022

Journal Article: “Social Reference Managers and Their Users: A Survey of Demographics and Ideologies”

The following article was recently published by PLoS One.

Social Reference Managers and Their Users: A Survey of Demographics and Ideologies


Pei-Ying Chen
Indiana University

Erica Hayes
North Carolina State University

Vincent Larivière
Université de Montréal
Université du Québec à Montréal

Cassidy R. Sugimoto
Indiana University


PLoS ONE 13(7): e0198033
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198033


Altmetric indicators are increasingly present in the research landscape. Among this ecosystem of heterogeneous indicators, social reference managers have been proposed as indicators of broader use of scholarly work. However, little work has been done to understand the data underlying this indicator. The present work uses a large-scale survey to study the users of two prominent social reference managers—Mendeley and Zotero. The survey examines demographic characteristics, usage of the platforms, as well as attitudes towards key issues in scholarly communication, such as open access, peer review, privacy, and the reward system of science. Results show strong differences between platforms: Mendeley users are younger and more gender-balanced; Zotero users are more engaged in social media and more likely to come from the social sciences and humanities. Zotero users are more likely to use the platform’s search functions and to organize their libraries, while Mendeley users are more likely to take advantage of some of the discovery and networking features—such as browsing papers and groups and connecting with other users. We discuss the implications of using metrics derived from these platforms as impact indicators.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.