I use Mendeley Desktop to manage my bibliography. Now I want to switch to Zotero.

Zotero used to be able to import the Mandeley's database. However, Mendeley 1.19 encrypted my data on my HDD with a key that only Elsevier has. See here:

Mendeley 1.19 and later have begun encrypting the local database, making it unreadable by Zotero and other standard database tools. Elsevier made this change a few months after Zotero publicly announced work on an importer, despite having long touted the openness of its database format as a guarantee against lock-in and explaining in its documentation that the database could be accessed using standard tools.

Mendeley claims that they were compelled to do so by GDPR:

We have encrypted users’ databases to comply with GDPR. You can still export your libraries to get data locally and/or import into another reference manager.

They also claim that I can export my data, but this is not true. Mendeley would only export basically a list of DOIs, and I am losing all the organization in folders it took me months to make.

I have zillions of articles: I can't afford to have them all in one folder in Zotero.

People are trying to break the encryption but I am not able to do that.

  1. Can I ask them to provide me with a copy of the unencrypted database under art. 20.1 of GDPR?

  2. Can I ask them to send the data directly to Zotero under article 20.2 of GDPR?

  • 1
    What personal data of yours do they have? – Dale M Jan 30 at 21:34
  • @DaleM Mendeley Desktop is a bibliography manager. So they basically have a list of my favourite scientific articles, together with articles metadata (authors, title, journal, etc.) and an attached PDF file with the actual article for each entry of the list – robertspierre Jan 31 at 0:51
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    I don’t see how a list of academic articles is personal data as defined in GDPR – Dale M Jan 31 at 1:49
  • @DaleM Well (1) They encrypted the database to comply with GDPR. So they themselves must deem this database as personal data (2) The list contains my preferences for scientific fields / article in that field, and is an information related to me, an identified natural person. No? – robertspierre Jan 31 at 2:55
  • @DaleM If a list of my favourite scientific articles is not personal data, is a list of your favourite books not personal data as well? So that if a user's come in my site, and inputs on my system that his favourite book is Mein Kampf, I can go all over the social networks and publish that <NAME> <SURNAME> reads that book because that is not personal data? – robertspierre Feb 1 at 6:37

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