Announcing Connected Papers — a visual tool for researchers to find and explore academic papers

Eddie Smolyansky
Jun 2 · 4 min read

After a long beta, today we are really excited to release Connected Papers* to the public. To use it, simply enter a paper of interest and we will generate a graph that shows that section of paper-space and its interconnections.

* Please use a desktop browser. Mobile browsers are not supported yet.

Image for post
Image for post
connectedpapers.com. Discover your next papers through an interactive graph.

To create each graph, we analyze an order of ~50,000 papers and select the few dozen with the strongest connections to the origin paper (more on that below).

Each node (circle) in the graph represents a paper which can be previewed on the right side panel. By clicking the “Build a graph” button, that paper becomes the origin to a new graph that’s created in the background. Every such hop can refine or expand the search to reveal more relevant papers. Congratulations, now you’re t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶p̶o̶r̶t̶a̶l̶s exploring paper-space.

The problem

Almost every research project in academia or industry involves phases of literature review. I’ve written before about the pains of finding and managing academic papers.

Many times we find an interesting paper, and we’d like to:

Previously, the best ways to do this were to browse reference lists, or hope to find good keywords in textual search engines and databases.

Introducing Connected Papers

Connected Papers started as a side project between friends. We’ve felt the pains of academic literature review and exploration for years and kept thinking about how to solve it.

For the past year we’ve been meeting on weekends and prototyping a tool that would allow a very different type of search process for academic papers. When we saw how much it improved our own research and development workflows — and got increasingly more requests from friends and colleagues to use it — we committed to release it to the public.

You know… for science.

So how does it work?

Connected Papers is not a citation tree. Those have been done before.
In our graph, papers are arranged according to their similarity. That means that even papers that do not directly cite each other can be strongly connected and positioned close to each other in the graph.

To get a bit technical, our similarity is based primarily on the concepts of co-citation and bibliographic coupling (aka co-reference). According to this measure, two papers that have highly overlapping citations and references are presumed to have a higher chance of treating a related subject matter.

Reading the graph

The Connected Papers graph is designed to make the important and relevant papers pop out immediately.

Image for post
Image for post
Graph view

With our layout algorithm, similar papers cluster together in space and are connected by stronger lines (edges). Popular papers (that are frequently cited) are represented by bigger circles (nodes) and more recent papers are represented by a darker color.

So for example, finding an important new paper in your field is as easy as identifying the dark large node at the center of a big cluster.

List view

In some cases it is convenient to work with just a list of connected papers. For these occasions, we’ve built the List view which you can access by clicking “Expand” at the top of the left panel. Here you can view additional paper details as well as sort and filter them according to various properties.

Image for post
Image for post
List view

Prior and derivative works

The Prior works feature lists the top common ancestral papers for the connected papers in the graph. It usually includes seminal works in the field that heavily influenced the next generation.

Meanwhile, the Derivative works feature is the opposite: it shows a list of common descendants of the papers in the graph. It usually includes relevant state of the art papers or systematic reviews and meta-analyses in the field.

We have found these features to be especially useful when we have a paper from one era of research and we would like to be directed to the preceding and succeeding generations of research on the same topic.

Image for post
Image for post
Derivative works

Spread the word and join the discussion

Please share Connected Papers in your scientific community!

We are very eager to see how the broader academic community adopts and responds to this tool. We welcome all forms of feedback and would love to brainstorm together about how it can further evolve and improve.

You can follow us on twitter or drop us a line at hello@connectedpapers.com.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to all of our beta testers and friends who helped us reach this release.

— Eddie, Alex, Itay

connectedpapers

A visual tool to help researchers and practitioners find and explore academic papers

Eddie Smolyansky

Written by

Founder@ConnectedPapers. Led CV&ML group @Alibaba Israel (post startup acquisition). Interested in rationality, startups, photography and gaming.

connectedpapers

A visual tool to help researchers and practitioners find and explore academic papers: connectedpapers.com

Eddie Smolyansky

Written by

Founder@ConnectedPapers. Led CV&ML group @Alibaba Israel (post startup acquisition). Interested in rationality, startups, photography and gaming.

connectedpapers

A visual tool to help researchers and practitioners find and explore academic papers: connectedpapers.com

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store