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Visualising a Research Portfolio
Visualising a Research Portfolio

Visualise the publications of an author you follow (or even your own!), and quickly see their most impactful works.

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

There are several reasons you may be interested in examining the research portfolio of a particular author. Perhaps you are:

  • A student pursuing researcher with a new advisor, trying to understand the research background of different professors you’d like to work with

  • A researcher seeking collaborators on a problem, looking for someone with the right background

  • On a review board, evaluating the research impact of a particular researcher

  • Interested in viewing your own research portfolio, to evaluate your various contributions and help guide future research priorities

Whatever the reason is, reviewing an author’s research portfolio and their collected works can be an important, yet daunting task. Sifting through all their publications may be time-consuming or even impossible for those with hundreds of papers. Just the task of prioritising the high-impact papers may be difficult when relying on traditional tools like basic academic search engines.

Here, we demonstrate how to quickly and easily visualise a research portfolio using Litmaps Map. By displaying all papers in one spot, you can review the publications by a particular author and adjust their arrangement in order to focus on the ones that matter for your search. You’ll be able to easily see all the research contributions of a particular author and how they evolve over time.

Creating visual research portfolios with Litmaps

Follow the steps below to pull in all your papers — or those of a particular author — in an adjustable display. From there, you can see how your research has evolved over time and where you’ve had the biggest impact, giving you fresh insights on where to go for future directions.

Getting all papers by an author

In order to create the Map, we need to get all the papers written by a particular author. One of the easiest way to do this is using Scopus Search. However, this option only works if you are affiliated with an institution that grants you access.

If you don’t have Scopus, then try searching for papers in Litmaps, or manually creating the list yourself. We’ll provide instructions for that in the next section.

To use Scopus to get all publications by an author:

  1. Go to Scopus Search, if your institution has an account. The free version lets you search, but not export papers.

  2. Search by author and click on the one you’d like

  3. Select all publications

  4. Click “Export all” and export as a BibTeX

Putting all an author’s papers into a Map

Open a new map by:

  1. Going to Litmaps Map

  2. Click “New Map”

  3. Click “Add Articles” at the top

If you pulled down papers from Scopus, add them here:

  1. Select “Import from Reference Manager”

  2. Import the BibTeX you just created

  3. Check out our guide here for more details

If you can’t use Scopus, then try adding papers by ORCID:

  1. From “Add Articles”, select “Search using an ORCID author”

  2. Search using ORCID or name of author

  3. Click the author you’d like

  4. Import all selected articles

  5. Keep in mind, this may not work well for all authors. ORCID profiles are maintained by their owners, so it’s up to authors to push any new publications into ORCID. For example, Stephen Hawking has only 7 papers tied to his ORCID, but he has far more papers than this.

If you can’t use ORCID or Scopus, then try adding references manually

  1. Use any of the ways here to import or find references in Litmaps.

  2. Caution! Be careful about using scraping tools like Zotero’s Chrome Plugin to pull a list of papers from Google Scholar. Sites like these detect the repeated pings and may block you.

Finally, once you've imported your articles, click "Save Map" at the top of the screen.

Examining an author’s Map portfolio

Now that you have all the references by an author pulled into a Map, you’re ready to begin playing around with the visualisation. Here, we’ll show how you can adjust the Map to examine the given author’s scientific work from a bird’s-eye view.

See recent breakthroughs

Newer, high-impact work in the portfolio can quickly be distinguished by setting the x-axis to Momentum and y-axis to the citation count (Cited By #). That’s because Momentum is a measure of a paper’s citations adjusted for how recently the paper was published. By sliding the Time Adjustment to the right, we can find the most recent and impactful papers. In this example, several papers clearly stand out towards the right side of the visualisation. These correspond to the latest and most impactful work by this researcher.

To distinguish recently impactful work:

  1. Set the y-axis to Cited By #

  2. Set the x-axis to Momentum

  3. Move the Time Adjustment slider slowly to the right and review how the papers move

  4. Go through papers in the visualisation, starting at the top right.

See biggest contributions

A researcher’s most significant contributions are tightly linked to what they continue to work on. Successful research tends to be built upon in future iterations. Thus, the papers most often cited by other papers within the author’s portfolio often correspond to the most central and impactful work.

In this case, we sort the visualisation using Map Relevance, which corresponds to an article’s number of citations within the map.

In order to quickly see the biggest contributions within a portfolio:

  1. Set the y-axis to Date

  2. Set the x-axis to Map Relevance

  3. Go through papers from top to bottom. Note that the more recent papers are to the right.

For more details on how to adjust Map visualisations, check out our guide here.

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