Seed Maps

Seed Maps are an excellent springboard for getting started in a new research topic, or getting a quick overview of a research paper.

Digl Dixon avatar
Written by Digl Dixon
Updated over a week ago

At the beginning of a new research project, you may have only a vague notion of what kind of papers to search for. Traditionally, you may look for papers by relying on scientific journals and databases, searching for particular keywords, trying to find the papers you need. Litmaps Seed Maps is an online tool that makes this literature discovery process easier and faster.

In this guide, we'll be looking at Litmaps Seed Map and some of its uses: searching for literature, creating a reading list from scratch, and for finding an initial set of papers for a literature review.


What are Seed Maps?

Seed Maps work by showing the top-related articles to a single inputted "seed" article. Seed Maps are very quick to make, and offer an excellent starting point for a new project, or an easy introduction to a newly-found article.

To generate Seed Maps, Litmaps traverses the seed article's surrounding citation network and compiles the most relevant articles to the seed – these will be a mixture of its references, citations, and citations-of-citations and/or references-of-references! The results are displayed in a visualisation to help contextualise where the seed sits within the literature landscape.

Why use Litmaps Seed Maps?

Seed Maps are a fast way to get familiar with an article. They work by exploring the connections surrounding the seed article's citations and references to generate an overview of the its position within the literature landscape. The result is a faster and more digestible workflow than simply browsing a paper's reference and citation lists.

Seed Maps are particularly useful when:

How does Litmaps select results for Seed Maps?

Starting with the seed article, we travel along its citations and references, and look at their citations and references. All of these citations, references, "grandcitations" and "grandreferences" are candidates to be included in the Seed Map.

We score each of these candidates based on the amount of citation and/or reference paths back to the seed article: if an article has lots of ways it reconnects with the seed, we can infer that it is tightly related, and so it gets a higher score. Conversely, if a candidate has very few paths back to the seed article, we can infer it is loosely related, and will be less likely to appear on the Seed map.

We also apply some secondary scoring rules and filtering to ensure you get the best Seed Map possible.


How to use Litmaps Seed Maps?

Seed Maps are very easy to get started with:

  1. Select a seed paper by either searching using the search bar, importing a paper from your reference manger or using a paper from an existing collection you have in Litmaps.

  2. Once your seed paper is ticked from the dialogue, press "Continue"

  3. Click "Generate Seed Map"

After you have your seed paper set up, Litmaps will take care of the rest! The Seed Map provides a visualization of the seed article's most relevant papers.

Create a Seed Map from any paper

Often within Litmaps you'll stumble across new papers you'd like to investigate.

There a button within the Article Details panel that will automatically generate a Seed Map in a new tab. This means you can take a quick peek at the article without leaving your current workflow.

You might even find yourself opening new Seed Maps from within Seed Maps! This is a great way to rapidly expand your search. We'd recommend using Collections to make sure you don't lose these articles, and – when you're ready – take them into Discover for a more in-depth search.

Chaining Seed Maps by generating a Seed Map from within a Seed Map!

Using Seed Maps in your Research

If you're starting a new project, you'll often have a couple of papers to use as starting points – these may be from your previous research, or they could be provided by a colleague or supervisor.

You can use Seed Maps to quickly expand these starting articles into a small initial collection of research.

First, use the instructions above to generate your Seed Map. Choose a seed article that's central to your research topic.

Next, using the Seed Map visualization, you can quickly tease apart different categories of articles for your topic

  • Articles increase by date of publication from left to right, so those to the left of the seed article (the blue seed marker) are references of the seed paper

  • Similarly, articles to the right of the seed are newer: they'll be relevant papers which cite the seed article

  • Papers are also sorted from bottom to top by number of citations, with the most cited papers towards the top. More influential papers will be towards the top.

Select some articles that look particularly interesting, and add them to a new Collection for safekeeping.

You may also start to notice important subtext for your topic: prevalent authors are common in Seed Maps, and you can even identify historical trends by seeing the way articles cite each other.

Finally, we'd encourage you to look at the Seed Maps for the new articles you found! Chaining together multiple Seed Maps is a great way to quickly build a new collection, and start to develop an intuitive understanding of your topic's literature landscape.

Can I Customize a Seed Map?

Customizing the Visualization

You are able to customize the visualization of the seed map llike any other Litmaps visualization. Read more about visualization customization here.

Customizing Seed Map Results

Seed Maps are a tool for quick and simple overviews of single articles. If you're looking to explore the literature in more detail, we recommend using Discover. You'll be able to search across more than just one article, and apply advanced keyword and date range filters.

To quickly convert a Seed Map into a Discover search, click the Search Further in Discover button:

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