How To Use Litmaps To Create A Litmap For Literature Review

Performing a comprehensive literature review can be daunting, but with Litmaps, you can supercharge the process.

Litmaps is an innovative tool that helps researchers discover, organise, and visualise academic papers through interactive literature maps. 

In this post, I will walk you through using Litmaps to enhance your research productivity and streamline your workflow.

What Is Litmaps And How Does It Work?

Litmaps is an essential tool for researchers, offering an interactive way to map out the scientific literature landscape.

You start by entering a topic or a specific paper into the app. Litmaps then creates a litmap, visually showing how articles are connected through citations.

This helps you see the key moments in the research field and understand the relationships between papers.

Using Litmaps, you can find academic papers that you might not discover through traditional searches. It’s particularly useful for students and PhD candidates who need to accelerate their literature review process.

By visualising the connections, you can stay updated on new research and organise your data effectively.

The seed function is a game-changer. You add a single paper, and Litmaps generates a network of related articles, showing who cited whom.

This makes it easier to find relevant literature and understand how different studies are interconnected. You can:

  • tag articles,
  • create collections, and even
  • share your literature maps with colleagues.

Imagine the productivity boost from not having to manually search for new papers! For those looking to make their research process more efficient and comprehensive, Litmaps is the tool to use. 

How To Use Litmaps To Perform Literature Review?

Step 1: Get A Free Account

To use Litmaps for performing a literature review, start by setting up a free account on their app. Once you’re logged in, the quick search feature becomes your primary tool.

Enter the topic or specific paper you’re interested in, and Litmaps will generate a litmap, a visual representation of the academic literature connected through citations.

Step 2: Find A Key Paper

Begin by finding a key article relevant to your research. If you’re studying the effects of urbanisation on bird migration, you might start with a highly-cited paper like “Bird Migration Advances More Strongly in Urban Environments.”

Enter this into Litmaps’ search bar, and the app will create a litmap with your chosen paper at the centre.

The surrounding nodes represent articles that are either cited by or cite your key paper, helping you see the entire landscape of related research.

Step 3: Expand View To Find Relevant Papers

Use the seed function to expand your view. By adding your key paper, Litmaps will display related articles, showing who cited whom. This helps you discover relevant literature you might otherwise miss.

You may find recent papers published that offers a new perspective on your topic. This feature is especially useful for PhD students or academic researchers who need to cover a vast amount of literature efficiently.


Step 4: Add Articles & Transcripts

As you explore, you can add articles to your collection. Tagging them based on subtopics or themes as you read along will help you stay organised.

You might tag articles under “urbanisation effects” or “bird migration patterns.” This organisation system is crucial for managing large volumes of information and ensures you can easily find and reference articles later.

Step 5: Monitor Papers, Researchers

Monitoring is another powerful feature. Litmaps can run searches weekly and notify you of new articles related to your topic.

This pro option is a time-saver, ensuring you stay updated without having to manually search for new papers. Imagine the productivity boost from having the latest research delivered to you automatically.

Step 6: Visualise Your Work

Visualising connections between articles helps you understand the broader context of your research. You can see which articles are most influential based on how many times they are cited.

This not only helps you identify key papers but also guides you on what to read next. The interactive nature of Litmaps makes this process engaging and intuitive.

Step 7: Share Your Work

Sharing your findings is simple. You can generate a public URL or share via email, making collaboration with colleagues seamless.


This is particularly useful when working on a joint project or when you want feedback from peers.

You can also export data in various formats such as:

  • BibTeX,
  • CSV, or
  • RIS

This feature should be handy for integrating Litmaps into your writing software or reference manager.

Step 8: Keep Track Of Researches & Stay Organised

Using Litmaps also means you can stay organised throughout your literature review.

All articles you add to your litmap are automatically saved, making it easy to track your progress.

You can access your saved articles by clicking “Articles” at the top right, where you can also export your list. Tags further help in categorising your literature, allowing you to create a structured overview of your research.

Litmaps: Organise Research Papers & Create Litmap

Litmaps is more than just a search tool; it’s a comprehensive guide through the entire literature review process.

By leveraging its features, you can accelerate your research, stay organised, and ensure you’re always up-to-date with the latest developments in your field.

Whether you’re a student or a seasoned researcher, Litmaps is designed to enhance your productivity and deepen your understanding of the scientific literature.

If you are looking for a step-by-step process to conduct literature review, feel free to check out my video guide:

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.