3 Innovative Literature Mapping Tools for Citation Maps 

In the ever-evolving landscape of academic research, navigating through vast amounts of literature can be daunting. Enter innovative literature mapping tools, packed with unique features.

They simplify and revolutionise the way researchers interact with scientific literature, enhancing the efficiency and depth of literature reviews.

Let’s dive into how these tools are reshaping the approach to academic research.

Innovative Literature Mapping Tools

Litmaps– Dynamic, interactive literature maps for visualising citation connections.
– Requires only a ‘seed paper’
– Customisable filtering by citations, dates, and keywords
Inciteful– Advanced visualisation of citation relationships
– Incorporates metadata from major academic databases
– Supports BibTeX data import for flexibility.
Connected Papers– Visualises direct citations and co-citations to reveal research trends
– Utilises metadata from key academic sources
– Adaptable for various research purposes.

What Is A Literature Mapping Tool?

A citation mapping tool is a game-changer. Think of it as a detective tool that uncovers the intricate web of connections within scientific literature.

These tools visualise citation relationships, creating a citation map or literature map that guides you through the complex maze of scholarly papers.

One popular example is Inciteful, offering innovative literature mapping tools that not only track citation links but also analyse the context of the citation, revealing direct citation relationships and co-citation networks.

Imagine you have a ‘seed paper,’ a starting point in your literature review. A literature mapping tool then take this seed paper and branch out, finding papers:

  • That cite it (direct citation relationships) or
  • Those that share a thematic connection (co-citation). 

This forms a citation tree or network, showing you not just one paper but a cluster of similar papers, interconnected by their citation relationships.

More modern citation mapping tool also integrated AI. They not only map out citation relationships but also delve into the citation context or sentiment, offering a richer, more nuanced understanding of how papers are interconnected. 


Litmaps is a cutting-edge citation mapping tool that offers a unique approach to visualising the connections in scientific literature.

It’s designed to simplify and enhance the process of conducting a literature review, especially for researchers looking to map out the citation landscape of a specific topic.

At its core, Litmaps lets you visualise citation relationships in a dynamic, interactive manner. It works by creating a literature map that shows how different papers are connected through citations. 

You start with a ‘seed paper,’ and Litmaps builds a citation network around it, by:

  • Identifying seminal papers,
  • similar papers, and 
  • Other papers that cite your chosen article.

This is particularly helpful for understanding the context and development of research in a given field.

One of the key features of Litmaps is its ability to create a citation tree. This tree not only shows direct citation relationships but also highlights co-citations. This gives you a deeper insight into how ideas and research are interconnected.

In terms of visualisation, Litmaps excels. It uses a similarity graph, not just a standard citation graph, to display connections.

This means you’re seeing a more nuanced representation of the literature, based on the similarity metric of papers, rather than just citation counts.

Litmaps also allows for a high level of customisation. You can filter papers based on:

  • The number of citations,
  • Publication date, and even
  • Specific keywords.

This makes it a highly flexible tool for conducting systematic reviews and meta-analysis.

Litmaps also have a more user-friendly interface, and additional features like tracking the latest papers on a specific topic or a random set of systematic reviews.


Inciteful is an innovative literature mapping tool that stands out in the field of academic research for its unique approach to visualizing citation networks.

This tool is designed to make the process of literature review more intuitive and insightful, especially for researchers and scholars delving into new or complex fields.

When you use Inciteful, you start by selecting a ‘seed paper’. From this single paper, Inciteful creates a citation network, branching out to reveal not only papers that cite your chosen article but also those that are contextually related through co-citation and citation relationships.

This forms a comprehensive citation map, allowing you to see how various research pieces interconnect.

A standout feature of Inciteful is its visualization capabilities. The tool presents a citation graph, where each node represents a paper, and connecting lines indicate citation links.

This visualization helps you grasp the structure of scientific discourse in a field, revealing seminal papers, emerging trends, and key authors. You can then filter and sort papers based on keywords, number of citations, or publication date.

Inciteful isn’t just about numbers of citations; it delves deeper. The tool analyzes the context of citations, bringing to light the sentiment and relevance of each citation relationship.

This adds an extra layer of depth to your literature review, offering insights that go beyond traditional citation counting. Inciteful Incorporates metadata from various sources like:

  • Google Scholar,
  • Web of Science, and
  • Microsoft Academic

Inciteful also ensures that its citation network is rich and current. The tool also supports importing bibliographic data in BibTeX format, making it flexible and adaptable to various research needs.

This makes Inciteful not just a powerful research tool but also a highly customizable one, suited for everything from quick overviews to in-depth systematic reviews.

Connected Papers

Connected Papers is a cool literature mapping tool that offers researchers and scholars an intuitive way to explore the citation network of a specific paper or topic.

It stands out compared to the other mapping tools for its user-friendly design and effective visualisation techniques.

Connected Papers takes a ‘seed paper’ of your choice, then generates a citation graph based on the seed paper, producing a visual network that displays how this paper is connected to others through direct citations and co-citations.

This network reveals the most relevant papers, showing you the ‘big picture’ of research trends and developments related to your topic.

The citation graph in Connected Papers isn’t just a simple map; it’s a detailed visualisation tool. Each node represents a paper, and the lines between them indicate citation relationships.

This visualisation allows you to easily identify:

  • Research papers,
  • Citations, and even 
  • Emerging trends in the field.

You can see at a glance which papers are most cited and how they interlink, providing a comprehensive overview of the scientific landscape.

Connected Papers uses metadata and bibliographic information from databases like Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Microsoft Academic. This ensures that the citation network you’re exploring is both extensive and up-to-date.

It also supports importing data in BibTeX format, making it versatile for different research needs.

This tool is particularly valuable for researchers who are looking to map out the landscape of a new or complex field. It helps in identifying related papers that might not be immediately obvious, providing a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Literature Review Made Easy, With Citation Map Tools

Litmaps, Inciteful, and Connected Papers represent the forefront of academic research tools, each bringing a unique approach to literature mapping.

They empower researchers with advanced visualisation, comprehensive citation networks, and user-friendly interfaces, making literature reviews more efficient and insightful.

As the landscape of scientific research continues to grow, these tools are invaluable allies in navigating and understanding the complex web of academic knowledge.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.