Powerful Tools for Mapping a Research Literature

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash
Map of a world traveler, by Denise Jans, Unsplash.

Professor Courtney Page Tan, Assistant Professor of Human Resilience in the Department of Security and Emergency Services at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, has compiled a list of powerful literature mapping tools. You can use these tools to increase the scale and scope of the literature for your projects. Many provide stunning graphical displays of search results (Edward Tufte would approve).

Connected Papers lets you explore connected papers in a visual graph, beginning with a starter paper you select. You can start with a DOI, URL, or paper title. Purposes: (1) Get a visual overview of a new academic field; (2) Make sure you haven’t missed an important paper; (3) Create the bibliography to your thesis; and (4) Discover the most relevant prior and derivative works.

scite_ Smart Citations for Intelligent Research. Smart Citations allow users to see how a scientific paper has been cited by providing the context of the citation and a classification describing whether it provides supporting or disputing evidence for the cited claim. They claim a database of over 23 million full-text articles.

Open Knowledge Maps. Calling themselves a “visual interface to the world’s scientific community,” their tool allows you to start with a few keywords to search for literature on a topic. Results display the main areas at a glance, and papers related to each area. In addition to giving you an overview of the area, it helps you identify important concepts. They highlight open access papers in their search results.

Local Citation Network. You input an article using its DOI or a scanned copy containing DOIs and the program shows you suggested articles for you to follow up.

They explain that “This web app aims to help scientists with their literature review using metadata from Microsoft Academic and Crossref. Academic papers cite one another, thus creating a citation network (= graph). Each node (= vertex) represents an article and each edge (= link / arrow) represents a reference / citation. Citation graphs are a topic of bibliometrics, for which other great software exists as well.

This web app visualizes subsets of the global citation network that I call “local citation networks,” defined by the references of a given set of input articles. In addition, the most cited references missing in the set of input articles are suggested for further review.”

Citation Gecko Gecko is designed to help you find the most relevant papers to your research and give you a more complete sense of the research landscape. Users start from a small set of ‘seed papers’ that define an area you are interested. Gecko will search the citation network for connected papers allowing you to quickly identify important papers you may have missed.

PRISMA Flow Diagram Generator. This is the most complex of the tools. It generates a graphical representation of the flow of citations reviewed in the course of a Systematic Review. Click here for an example.