I'm looking for a PhD position. Of course I'm reading and following the papers of the field to get to know the community. Is there a tool to visualize a citation/co-author network (or at least a database I could visualize myself)? I have looked into tools like CitNetExplorer and VosViewer. Csauthors.net is also a nice tool, but it is limited to showing only a path between two researchers instead of a full graph.

Essentially, I would like to map all collaborations of the researchers to get a feeling for where the hot spots are and where the niches are.

  • Could you be more specific about what you're trying to do? You mention VOSviewer - did it fail to do what you were looking for?
    – Harry
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 23:44

5 Answers 5


I have found Connected Papers very useful, particularly for machine learning. You type in your paper and it shows you a network of related papers where node size indicates number of citations and color indicates recency. Here's an example for the paper "Attention is All you Need."

enter image description here


You might want to have a look at the Web of Science (formerly known as ISI Web of Knowledge). When I started my PhD back in 2008, I used it particularly for visualizing citation networks relevant to my research. I think some time later it became a subscription based service, so the access is not as easy anymore, but a lot of scientific institutions or libraries may provide you the access. I haven't used the Web of Science any more in recent time, so I am not really aware of their capabilities today -- but the description still reads similar to what I remember.


Using google scholar might be another option for you. Since many researcher also have a google scholar profile, you can explore preliminary collaboration patterns and the number of citations. Maybe this helps you a bit to trace back some recent developments and to identify the main scholars in the field.
Besides of this and depends whether such a publication exists in your field, but reading the 'annual review of XXX' (for instance Annual Review of Sociology or Annual Review of Economics) is often helpful to read, because you see the recent trends and 'hot issues' (or just recently re-discovered niche topics) and often prominent scholars in the discipline write such long review article - see: http://www.annualreviews.org/


With ResearchRabbit you can visually discover relevant research literature.

  • Connects to your Zotero account and automatically imports your library (I don't know if any others work as well)
  • Shows you "similar work", "earlier work", "later work"
  • Allows you to explore authors of a set of selected papers or proposes other relevant authors matching the set.

All this is nicely displayed as a graph network.


scholia has support for the display of such co-author graphs.

I have created the tool sotsog with the motto Standing on the shoulders of giants with direct access to the clouds which connects it's search results to scholia if a hit is found.

If you e.g. enter "ISWC 2016" in either scholia or sotsog you'll end up at the proceedings scholia page showing author graphs such as: enter image description here

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