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How to Search for Sources and Manage Them

How to develop a search strategy

Beyond Google

Inciteful graph

The Open Citations movement has facilitated access to bibliographic metadata. Combined with the advances in artificial intelligence, it has enabled the creation of new search tools.

Literature Mapping Tools

Literature mapping tools help researchers find articles by exploring connections between publications. Most use one or more 'seed papers' as a starting point. They often use citations (articles citing or cited in the seed papers), or articles that appear in the bibliographies of several papers), algorithms and artificial intelligence. The results are displayed as a map, with the closest articles grouped together.

Connected papers link
Inciteful link
  • Free
  • No account creation required. Builds a citation network graph from a seed paper, or shows the connections between two papers
  • There is a Zotero plugin allowing to create graphs directly from an item of your Zotero library
Litmaps link
  • Freemium
  • Enter the DOI or title of an article, and find articles linked to it through citations
Local Citation Network link
  • Open source and free
  • No cookies, no user-tracking
  • Allows to build a citation network, starting from a source article
Open Knowledge Maps link
  • Non-profit and open source
  • Ask a research question and the results will be presented on a map with the 100 most relevant documents grouped by sub-topics
ResearchRabbit link
  • Free (users can make donations)
  • Does not sell users' data to third parties
  • Rather sophisticated, it encourages jumping from paper to paper without getting lost in the rabbit hole
  • You can create a collection of papers inside Research Rabbit and synchronise it with your Zotero library

AI Tools

Chat GPT is not a search engine! It "hallucinates" (gives false answers that seem credible, especially if you are unfamiliar with the subject) and even makes up bibliographic references.

You can try these other tools (some are powered by GPT). Caution warning: AI should be your assistant, not your master, always check if the extracted information is correct against the source papers!

  • Free and AI-powered
  • Looks like Google Scholar, gives normally less but more relevant results
  • Explores the citation graph both ways (citing and cited papers), whereas Google Scholar goes only one way (citing papers). Distinguishes between "highly influential citations" and "background citations"
  • A project at the Allen Institute for AI, a non-profit research institute created by Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder.
  • Free, but you need to create an account
  • Enter a search question with keywords
  • Helps readers to understand articles more easily; provides a synthesis of top 5 articles
  • You can ask follow-up questions to the "copilot", and even ask it to explain tables or figures
  • You can also upload a PDF and ask Scispace to explain the content of the text
  • There is a Chrome add-on.
  • Freemium; account creation required
  • Illimited searches with a free account
  • Enter a search question
  • Generates a synthesis from the papers, and also provides a "consensus-meter" (proportion of papers answering yes or no to the search question). Free account users can only generate 3 syntheses and consensus-meters per month
  • Zotero integration.