Understand Research Faster, Visually

Here's how to use visual literature maps (Litmaps) to enhance your understanding of your research topic.

Marina Kisley avatar
Written by Marina Kisley
Updated over a week ago

We’re wired to process visuals faster than the written word. By using visual literature maps to review research, you can rapidly form connections and enhance your understanding of your research topic.

You can use Litmaps to:

  • See article connections and relative importance

  • Distinguish high-impact, historical, and cutting-edge work

  • Organize your topics and sub-topics

How to Prioritize your Articles on your Litmap

Use Litmaps to quickly identify different kinds of research contributions, whether that's the latest work in a field, the historical papers to know, or novel contributions. You can do this by altering how the articles are visualized, based on the X and Y axes, as well as the size of the nodes themselves.

Below is a breakdown of the most common types of articles researchers look for, and how to set your Map up to visually spot them in Litmaps. Click on the legend at the bottom left of the Map to update these measures:

Set your... to find:




Look for articles:

Review papers


Reference Count

Citation Count

Towards the top left

High-impact work


Citation Count


Towards the top

Cutting-edge papers


Map Relevance


Towards the top right

Papers most relevant to your topic


Map Relevance


Towards the top

Update the axes or nodes based on what types of articles you're looking for. Change these so that articles are visualized based on different measures. Here are the different options available in Litmaps:

  • Fixed: All articles given equal size/weight, to simplify your visualization

  • Cited Count: The article's number of citations

  • Ref Count: The article's number of references

  • Momentum: Cited Count adjusted for recency of publication. Click the additional settings to adjust the slider. This will help you distinguish new articles that have a significant impact based on citation, despite how recent they are.

  • Map Relevance: The article's number of citations within this map. This helps you find which articles are most tightly connected to your topic.

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