What are good ways to explore/discover literature visually, e.g. a visual interface for Google Scholar? There are a few tools to explore the citation graph ("which papers cite which papers"). Some are described here:

There are a few more with a different focus:

  • Graph of patents (but not papers) - "PatGraph"
  • Only for own local library (not for discovery of new papers) - "Action Science Explorer"
  • Old limited version from 2004 (no way to go backwards through citations) - "TouchGraph browser for Google Scholar"
  • Limited database size - https://nlp.fi.muni.cz/projekty/visualbrowser/#sec0403

Do you know others? Which ones do you recommend?

  • 5
    This should probably be community wiki. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 10:00
  • 1
    I'm in agreement with David Ketcheson on this: community wiki. Six years on, this space is getting AI powered. Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 0:38

9 Answers 9


Newest and possibly best, with a similarity metric based on shared citations and references: https://www.connectedpapers.com/

  • Looks nice, but only a finite number of requests per month...
    – Dirk
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 0:21

I recently found Citation Gecko which takes in articles as seeds and shows papers they are connected to by citations (past and future) in an interactive network with a very clean design. Can import seed papers from Medeley, Zotoro, etc. too!

It's open source, the code is available here: https://github.com/CitationGecko

  • Gave Citation Gecko a try just now. It looks promising. However, development stalled. Interestingly, developer recommends Litmaps. Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 0:40

I think it really depends on what you want to do.

Proto-Knowledge lists software developed by both Leydesdorff (several choices) and Börner (principally Sci2) that are probably good starting points.

Although not as visual, I've used several Elsevier Pure clients to identify experts for peer review panels - https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/pure/who-uses-pure/clients.


Research Rabbit. It not only shows citation graph but also recommends similar papers based on your research library.

  • I agree, it is free, very nice to use, and you can even import your Zotero library as "seed" papers for the search.
    – Raphaël
    Commented Nov 13, 2021 at 16:28
  • Direct link to Research Rabbit: researchrabbit.ai
    – Eric
    Commented Jan 23 at 17:21

The citation visualisation is getting interesting and AI powered.

I've tried Litmaps in the last one week. The free version definitely gets one going. Sooner or later, one will need the Litmaps Pro (paid).
I take note that development on Citation Gecko and its developer recommends Litmaps. Citation Gecko 8s still a good starter.

Andy Stapleton nicely compare:

Being a Zotero user, I think Inciteful provides an interesting integrated and living approach. Inciteful appears more dynamic than Litmaps.
PS: Inciteful is not dependent on Zotero. It can function directly from search strings, DOI, Bibtex and others.

Interesting times ahead.


scite Visualizations (explained in this short YouTube video) shows the citation graph.

The edges in the graph indicate whether the articles support or refute each other's claims.


I recently came across a free tool called PaperMap. It doesn't have the feature to discover new papers but it's a great tool to use after you finished exploring new papers. Its primary role is to organize and annotate papers you've already found. Think of it as a tool to structure and visualize your literature for research projects.

If you find a paper that fits your project's literature collection, you incorporate it into PaperMap. So when writing the literature review portion of a paper, you can simply refer to this map, trace the reasoning, and use the notes you've jotted down for each paper.

You can add as many papers as you want to your map. The tool will automatically create a citation link between the newly added paper and the existing papers in your map. The map is a transitive reduction of the citation graph, so it stays clean and manageable, even if you add a ton of papers.


https://www.scholar-inbox.com/ recommends related papers. It is not visual (maybe the focus of the question should be edited?) and limited to arXiv and to certain conferences.


Scite (https://www.researchrabbit.ai/) is one of the more powerful visualization tools in terms of accessing linked data references in individual papers. Since they include tagging of sentiment (disagreeing vs. supporting), it also allows sifting through so called 'negative citations'--such as all the papers that cite the supposed vaccine/autism link only to debunk the claim.

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