Doing a literature review on a topic that is new to me at the moment, I am especially interested in papers that are cited across several of the papers I'm currently focussing on. I was wondering if there is a tool out there, which I can feed with a list of the papers I'm reading, and that will provide me with a set of shared references. Looking into Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar, I couldn't find something resembling such an option, but maybe I have just overseen it. Googling for a tool like this proved also difficult, maybe because I couldn't find the propper search terms.

I know that there is an api for Scopus, with which one could probably write a Python Script to perform such a task, but I rather not reinvent the wheel and waste time (although it'd probably be fun to check out the Scopus api).

  • There have been articles that study the relationships and citation patterns of papers, but they must use custom-scraped data sets. This would be so useful to browse for individual researchers. If I could select 40 papers on a topic and quickly see overlapping referenced papers and citing papers that may indicate progress, it would be much easier to find 'cornerstone' papers on a narrow research topic, and to find the latest research on that topic...
    – user15741
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


The process of finding the intersection of the references in a given set of papers is known as bibliographic coupling and was first proposed by M. M. Kessler in 1963 in a paper that sadly remains locked behind a paywall 52 years later. Kessler was thinking about doing this for pairs of papers but of course you could do this for an arbitrary number. What might also be interesting would be to look for the set of papers reachable by following citation trails backward in time through any number of steps.

I am unaware of any on-line tools that perform this type of comparison for you, though it would not be hard to build such a thing if you had access to a big enough citation graph.

  • Thanks for your post and to point out the wikipedia article! I still have some hope that there might be a tool out there that just does this kind of analysis. Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 7:33

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