Use Maps to visualize your research articles: see how they connect over time, identify influential publications, and analyze trends.

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

Maps are visual representations of your research articles, showing how they cite one another, and displaying other information such as citation count, and publication date.

An example Map

When diving deep into a research topic, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Seeing how papers in an existing library of literature fit together can give you a fresh perspective on where your research fits. Research papers, whether by purposeful design or not, tell a story of the work being presented. By seeing your own work in the broader context, you are able to better frame your research story so that readers can easily understand its place and contribution.

Traditionally, the context and motivation for a particular research paper is often just an idea in the researcher’s head, and eventually put into words in the Introduction of the paper. However, by getting this information “down on paper” visually, you can determine the broader context of your research before you start the project. Perhaps most importantly, you can easily share these thoughts with collaborators, so that everyone is on the same page of what the work tries to address.

Visualising the relationships among papers in a research collection, and helping you ideate where future research comes in, is the goal of the Litmaps Map tool. By interacting with a visual map of how papers in an existing field connect, you can approach your research with a broader perspective in mind.

Why use Litmaps Map?

Litmaps Maps let you quickly see the connections among papers in your existing literature collections. Maps show each paper in the literature library as a dot with lines joining papers that reference one another. You can use Maps to visually organise a collection by sorting papers by certain parameters, or by manually moving papers around and clustering them based on your needs. The result is a visualisation that quickly communicates the landscape of literature for your research topic.

You can use Litmaps Map to:

How to use Litmaps Maps?

Creating a Map from Scratch

Head to the "Maps" section from the sidebar, and click the "New Map" button.

Click on the "Add Articles" button to find articles to add to your map. There are a few ways to bring articles into Litmaps, you can find quick guide to these here.

Creating a Map from a Collection

If you've used Litmaps before, you might have a Collection. Good news! You can quickly maps of your collections. Either:

  • Click on "Map" in the sidebar

  • Find and click your Collection within the "View a Map for one of your collections" box


  • Click on "Your Library" in the sidebar

  • Navigate to the collection you want to view

  • Click the "View as Map" button

Note that Collection Map aren't directly editable – click the "Save to edit in fullscreen" button if you want to add and/or remove articles from a copy of the map.

Map Basics

Maps show the citations and references between a group of articles.

  • Dots represent articles

  • Lines represent a citation from one article to another

  • Colors indicate which of your Collections an article is part of

Note that – normally – the X axis will represent publication date. This means lines leading to the left of an article will be references, and lines leading to the right will be citations.

On the map above we can see how several articles cite each other over time. These articles also happen to be part of Collections – allowing us to see how several topics are related.

Clicking on an article will open its details in a separate panel.

How to Edit Litmaps Maps

Adding Articles

The "Add Articles" button will be your main method for finding and adding articles to your map. We cover some of the common options from bringing articles into Litmaps here.

Adding Citations/References

Add some of the citations and/or references of your current map articles is a great way to quickly build an interesting visualisation.

  1. Click on an article on the map

  2. Expand the article details popup

  3. Click on either the "References" or "Citations" tab

  4. Select which references/citations you'd like to add to the map

  5. Click the "Add to Map" button

Removing Articles

  1. Box-select articles you wish to remove

  2. Either click the "Remove from map" button, or hit the backspace key on your keyboard

Repositioning Articles

Simply click-drag on articles to reposition them. You can do this for several articles at the same time by click-dragging a box selection.

Note the purple halo being displayed on the moved articles: this indicates they're positioned independently from your layout settings – you can click the "Reset" button to make these articles return to the normal layout.

Uses for Litmaps Maps

Many researchers find visualising their work useful simply for seeing the "shape" of a large collection of research: which are most recent, and which are most heavily cited (and, therefore, probably more influential).

Maps are intended to be a freeform way of interpreting your research collection. To help get you started, we've put together a couple of workflows that showcase different ways you can use Maps:

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