The top list of academic search engines

academic search engines

1. Google Scholar

4. science.gov, 5. semantic scholar, 6. baidu scholar, frequently asked questions about academic search engines, related articles.

Academic search engines have become the number one resource to turn to in order to find research papers and other scholarly sources. While classic academic databases like Web of Science and Scopus are locked behind paywalls, Google Scholar and others can be accessed free of charge. In order to help you get your research done fast, we have compiled the top list of free academic search engines.

Google Scholar is the clear number one when it comes to academic search engines. It's the power of Google searches applied to research papers and patents. It not only lets you find research papers for all academic disciplines for free but also often provides links to full-text PDF files.

  • Coverage: approx. 200 million articles
  • Abstracts: only a snippet of the abstract is available
  • Related articles: ✔
  • References: ✔
  • Cited by: ✔
  • Links to full text: ✔
  • Export formats: APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, Vancouver, RIS, BibTeX

Search interface of Google Scholar

BASE is hosted at Bielefeld University in Germany. That is also where its name stems from (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine).

  • Coverage: approx. 136 million articles (contains duplicates)
  • Abstracts: ✔
  • Related articles: ✘
  • References: ✘
  • Cited by: ✘
  • Export formats: RIS, BibTeX

Search interface of Bielefeld Academic Search Engine aka BASE

CORE is an academic search engine dedicated to open-access research papers. For each search result, a link to the full-text PDF or full-text web page is provided.

  • Coverage: approx. 136 million articles
  • Links to full text: ✔ (all articles in CORE are open access)
  • Export formats: BibTeX

Search interface of the CORE academic search engine

Science.gov is a fantastic resource as it bundles and offers free access to search results from more than 15 U.S. federal agencies. There is no need anymore to query all those resources separately!

  • Coverage: approx. 200 million articles and reports
  • Links to full text: ✔ (available for some databases)
  • Export formats: APA, MLA, RIS, BibTeX (available for some databases)

Search interface of Science.gov

Semantic Scholar is the new kid on the block. Its mission is to provide more relevant and impactful search results using AI-powered algorithms that find hidden connections and links between research topics.

  • Coverage: approx. 40 million articles
  • Export formats: APA, MLA, Chicago, BibTeX

Search interface of Semantic Scholar

Although Baidu Scholar's interface is in Chinese, its index contains research papers in English as well as Chinese.

  • Coverage: no detailed statistics available, approx. 100 million articles
  • Abstracts: only snippets of the abstract are available
  • Export formats: APA, MLA, RIS, BibTeX

Search interface of Baidu Scholar

RefSeek searches more than one billion documents from academic and organizational websites. Its clean interface makes it especially easy to use for students and new researchers.

  • Coverage: no detailed statistics available, approx. 1 billion documents
  • Abstracts: only snippets of the article are available
  • Export formats: not available

Search interface of RefSeek

Google Scholar is an academic search engine, and it is the clear number one when it comes to academic search engines. It's the power of Google searches applied to research papers and patents. It not only let's you find research papers for all academic disciplines for free, but also often provides links to full text PDF file.

Semantic Scholar is a free, AI-powered research tool for scientific literature developed at the Allen Institute for AI. Sematic Scholar was publicly released in 2015 and uses advances in natural language processing to provide summaries for scholarly papers.

BASE , as its name suggest is an academic search engine. It is hosted at Bielefeld University in Germany and that's where it name stems from (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine).

CORE is an academic search engine dedicated to open access research papers. For each search result a link to the full text PDF or full text web page is provided.

Science.gov is a fantastic resource as it bundles and offers free access to search results from more than 15 U.S. federal agencies. There is no need any more to query all those resources separately!

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Resources for Finding and Accessing Scientific Papers

Introduction.

Reading scientific literature is a critical part of conceiving of and executing a successful advanced science project. The How to Read a Scientific Paper guide can help you get the most out of each paper you read—first, of course, you have to actually get your hands on the paper! That's where this guide comes in. Below you'll find tips and resources for both searching for and acquiring free copies of scientific papers to read.

Academic Search Engines: Resources for Finding Science Paper Citations

When you start your background research, one of the early steps is finding and reading the scientific literature related to your science project (see the Roadmap: How to Get Started On an Advanced Science Project article for more details on project steps). Mentors are a great resource for recommendations about which scientific papers are critical for you to read and you should definitely ask your mentor, or another expert in the field, for advice. But there'll also be times when your mentor is busy or isn't up-to-date on a particular experimental method, in which case, you'll need to be proactive and hunt for papers on your own. It turns out that just plugging search terms into a regular search engine, like Google, Yahoo, or MSN, isn't very effective. The pages you get back will be a wide mixture of websites, and very few will be links to peer-reviewed scientific papers. To find scientific literature, the best thing to use is an academic search engine.

There are many different academic search engines. Some focus on a single discipline, while others have citations from multiple fields. There are a handful of free, publicly available academic search engines that can be accessed online; some of these are listed in Table 1, below. The remainder, like the ISI Web of Science, are subscription-based. Universities and colleges often subscribe to academic search engines. If you can't find what you need using a free search engine, you may be able to access these resources from computers in a university or college library. Consult the school's library webpage, or call the library directly, to find out to which academic search engines they subscribe to and whether or not you'd be allowed into the library to access them.

Table 1: This table provides a list of free, online academic search engines for various science disciplines.

Here are a few tips to help you get started with the academic search engines:

  • Each search engine works slightly differently, so it's worth taking the time to read any available help pages to figure out the best way to use each one.
  • When you're beginning your literature search, try several different key words, both alone and in combination. Then, as you view the results, you can narrow your focus and figure out which key words best describe the kinds of papers in which you are interested.
  • As you read the literature, go back and try additional searches using the jargon and terms you learn while reading.

Note: The results of academic search engines come in the form of an abstract, which you can read to determine if the paper is relevant to your science project, as well as a full citation (author, journal title, volume, page numbers, year, etc.) so that you can find a physical copy of the paper. Search engines do not necessarily contain the full text of the paper for you to read. A few, like PubMed, do provide links to free online versions of the paper, when one is available. Read on for help finding the full paper.

How to Get a Copy of a Scientific Paper

Once you've found the citation for a paper that is relevant to your advanced science project, the next step is actually getting a copy so that you can read it. As mentioned above, some search engines provide links to free online versions of the paper, if one exists. If the search engine doesn't, or if you got the citation somewhere else, like the bibliography of another science paper you were reading, there are several ways to find copies.

Searching for Newer Papers (published during Internet era)

  • Note: If you do go to a university or college library to photocopy or print journal articles, make sure to bring plenty of change with you, because they won't have any!
  • Look for a free online version. Try searching for the full title of the paper in a regular search engine like Google, Yahoo, or MSN. The paper may come up multiple times, and one of those might be a free, downloadable copy. So, if the first link isn't downloadable, try another.
  • Go directly to the online homepage of the journal in which the paper was published. Some scientific journals are "open-source," meaning that their content is always free online to the public. Others are free online (often after registering with the website) if the paper was published more than a year ago. The Directory of Open Access Journals is also a good place to check to see which journals are free in your field of interest. The website lists journals by subject, as well as by title.
  • Search directly for the homepage of the first or last author of the paper and see if he or she has a PDF of the paper on his or her website. If so, you can download it directly from there. Generally it is only worth looking up the first author (the one who contributed the most to the paper) or the last author (usually the professor in whose lab the work was done and who supervised the science project).
  • Look for the paper (using the title or authors) in a science database, like those listed below, in Table 2. These databases contain free, full-text versions of scientific papers, as well as other relevant information, like publicly accessible data sets.

Table 2: List of databases containing free, full-text scientific papers and data sets.

  • Purchase a copy. Depending on the science magazine publisher, you may also come across offers for purchasing a copy of the paper. This is an expensive option, particularly if you have multiple papers you'd like to read; try some of the other searching methods first

Searching for Older Papers (published pre-Internet era)

Even with all of the above searching methods, you may not be able to find a free copy of the paper online. This is particularly true for older science papers, which were published before online content became routine. In these cases, there are additional ways to get the paper at no or minimal cost.

  • Contact the author via email. As mentioned above, the first and last authors are your best bets. Briefly explain your situation and request a copy of the paper directly from him or her. If you do this, make sure to be polite and brief in your email.
  • Contact your mentor and ask if he or she can help you acquire a copy of the paper. Use this as a last resort though, because you may find that your request falls pretty far down on a mentor's lengthy to-do list.

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28 Best Academic Search Engines That make your research easier

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Academic Search Engines

If you’re a researcher or scholar, you know that conducting effective online research is a critical part of your job. And if you’re like most people, you’re always on the lookout for new and better ways to do it. 

I’m sure you are familiar with some research databases. But, top researchers keep an open mind and are always looking for inspiration in unexpected places. 

This article aims to give you an edge over researchers that rely mainly on Google for their entire research process.

Our list of 28 academic search engines will start with the more familiar to less.

Table of Contents

#1. Google Scholar

Academic Search Engines

Google Scholar is an academic search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines.

Great for academic research, you can use Google Scholar to find articles from academic journals, conference proceedings, theses, and dissertations. The results returned by Google Scholar are typically more relevant and reliable than those from regular search engines like Google.

Tip: You can restrict your results to peer-reviewed articles only by clicking on the “Scholarly”

  • Scholarly results are typically more relevant and reliable than those from regular search engines like Google.
  • You can restrict your results to peer-reviewed articles only by clicking on the “Scholarly” tab.
  • Google Scholar database Coverage is extensive, with approx. 200 million articles indexed.
  • Abstracts are available for most articles.
  • Related articles are shown, as well as the number of times an article has been cited.
  • Links to full text are available for many articles.
  • Abstracts are only a snippet of the full article, so you might need to do additional searching to get the full information you need.
  • Not all articles are available in full text.

Google Scholar is completely free.

#2. ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) 

scientific papers search engine

ERIC (short for educational resources information center) is a great academic search engine that focuses on education-related literature. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and produced by the Institute of Education Sciences. 

ERIC indexes over a million articles, reports, conference papers, and other resources on all aspects of education from early childhood to higher education. So, search results are more relevant to Education on ERIC. 

  • Extensive coverage: ERIC indexes over a million articles, reports, and other resources on all aspects of education from early childhood to higher education.
  • You can limit your results to peer-reviewed journals by clicking on the “Peer-Reviewed” tab.
  • Great search engine for educators, as abstracts are available for most articles.

ERIC is a free online database of education-related literature. 

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#3. Wolfram Alpha

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Wolfram Alpha is a “computational knowledge engine” that can answer factual questions posed in natural language. It can be a useful search tool. 

Type in a question like “What is the square root of 64?” or “What is the boiling point of water?” and Wolfram Alpha will give you an answer.

Wolfram Alpha can also be used to find academic articles. Just type in your keywords and Wolfram Alpha will generate a list of academic articles that match your query.

Tip: You can restrict your results to peer-reviewed journals by clicking on the “Scholarly” tab.

  • Can answer factual questions posed in natural language.
  • Can be used to find academic articles.
  • Results are ranked by relevance.
  • Results can be overwhelming, so it’s important to narrow down your search criteria as much as possible.
  • The experience feels a bit more structured but it could also be a bit restrictive

Wolfram Alpha offers a few pricing options, including a “Pro” subscription that gives you access to additional features, such as the ability to create custom reports. You can also purchase individual articles or download them for offline use.

Pro costs $5.49 and Pro Premium costs $9.99

#4. iSEEK Education 

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iSEEK is a search engine targeting students, teachers, administrators, and caregiver. It’s designed to be safe with editor-reviewed content.

iSEEK Education also includes a “Cited by” feature which shows you how often an article has been cited by other researchers.

  • Editor-reviewed content.
  • “Cited by” feature shows how often an article has been cited by other researchers.
  • Limited to academic content.
  • Doesn’t have the breadth of coverage that some of the other academic search engines have.

iSEEK Education is free to use.

#5. BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine)

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BASE is hosted at Bielefeld University in Germany and that’s where it name stems from (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine). 

Known as “one of the most comprehensive academic web search engines,” it contains over 100 million documents from 4,000 different sources. 

Users can narrow their search using the advanced search option, so regardless of whether you need a book, a review, a lecture, a video or a thesis, BASE has what you need.

BASE indexes academic articles from a variety of disciplines, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

  • One of the world’s most voluminous search engines, 
  • Indexes academic articles from a variety of disciplines, especially for academic web resources
  • Includes an “Advanced Search” feature that lets you restrict your results to peer-reviewed journals.
  • Doesn’t include abstracts for most articles.
  • Doesn’t have related articles, references, cited by

BASE is free to use.

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CORE is an academic search engine that focuses on open access research papers. A link to the full text PDF or complete text web page is supplied for each search result. It’s academic search engine dedicated to open access research papers.

  • Focused on open access research papers.
  • Links to full text PDF or complete text web page are supplied for each search result.
  • Export formats include BibTeX, Endnote, RefWorks, Zotero.
  • Coverage is limited to open access research papers.
  • No abstracts are available for most articles.
  • No related articles, references, or cited by features.

CORE is free to use.

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#7. Science.gov

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Science.gov is a search engine developed and managed by the United States government. It includes results from a variety of scientific databases, including NASA, EPA, USGS, and NIST. 

US students are more likely to have early exposure to this tool for scholarly research. 

  • Coverage from a variety of scientific databases (200 million articles and reports).
  • Links to full text are available for some articles.

Science.gov is free to use.

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#8. Semantic Scholar

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Semantic Scholar is a recent entrant to the field. Its goal is to provide more relevant and effective search results via artificial intelligence-powered methods that detect hidden relationships and connections between research topics.

  • Powered by artificial intelligence, which enhances search results.
  • Covers a large number of academic articles (approx. 40 million).
  • Related articles, references, and cited by features are all included.
  • Links to full text are available for most articles.

Semantic Scholar is free to use.

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#9. RefSeek

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RefSeek searches more than five billion documents, including web pages, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers.

This is one of the free search engines that feels like Yahoo with a massive directory. It could be good when you are just looking for research ideas from unexpected angles. It could lead you to some other database that you might not know such as the CIA The World Factbook, which is a great reference tool.

  • Searches more than five billion documents.
  • The Documents tab is very focused on research papers and easy to use.
  • Results can be filtered by date, type of document, and language.
  • Good source for free academic articles, open access journals, and technical reports.
  • The navigation and user experience is very dated even to millenials…
  • It requires more than 3 clicks to dig up interesting references (which is how it could lead to you something beyond the 1st page of Google)
  • The top part of the results are ALL ads (well… it’s free to use)

RefSeek is free to use.

#10. ResearchGate 

scientific papers search engine

A mixture of social networking site + forum + content databases where researchers can build their profile, share research papers, and interact with one another.

Although it is not an academic search engine that goes outside of its site, ResearchGate ‘s library of works offers an excellent choice for any curious scholar.

There are more than 100 million publications available on the site from over 11 million researchers. It is possible to search by publication, data, and author, as well as to ask the researchers questions. 

  • A great place to find research papers and researchers.
  • Can follow other researchers and get updates when they share new papers or make changes to their profile.
  • The network effect can be helpful in finding people who have expertise in a particular topic.
  • Interface is not as user friendly
  • Can be overwhelming when trying to find relevant papers.
  • Some papers are behind a paywall.

ResearchGate is free to use.

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#11. DataONE Search (formerly CiteULike) 

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A social networking site for academics who want to share and discover academic articles and papers.

  • A great place to find academic papers that have been shared by other academics.
  • Some papers are behind a paywall

CiteULike is free to use.

#12. DataElixir 

scientific papers search engine

DataElixir is deigned to help you find, understand and use data. It includes a curated list of the best open datasets, tools and resources for data science.

  • Dedicated resource for finding open data sets, tools, and resources for data science.
  • The website is easy to navigate.
  • The content is updated regularly
  • The resources are grouped by category.
  • Not all of the resources are applicable to academic research.
  • Some of the content is outdated.

DataElixir is free to use.

#13. LazyScholar – browser extension

scientific papers search engine

LazyScholar is a free browser plugin that helps you discover free academic full texts, metrics, and instant citation and sharing links. Lazy Scholar is created Colby Vorland, a postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University.

  • It can integrate with your library to find full texts even when you’re off-campus.
  • Saves your history and provides an interface to find it.
  • A pre-formed citation is availlable in over 900 citation styles.
  • Can recommend you topics and scans new PubMed listings to suggest new papers
  • Results can be a bit hit or miss

LazyScholar is free to use.

#14. CiteseerX – digital library from PenState

scientific papers search engine

CiteseerX is a digital library stores and indexes research articles in Computer Science and related fields. The site has a robust search engine that allows you to filter results by date, author.

  • Searches a large number of academic papers.
  • Results can be filtered by date, author, and topic.
  • The website is easy to use.
  • You can create an account and save your searches for future reference.

CiteseerX is free to use.

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#15. The Lens – patents search 

The Lens or the Patent Lens is an online patent and scholarly literature search facility, provided by Cambia, an Australia-based non-profit organization.

scientific papers search engine

  • Searches for a large number of academic papers.

The price range can be free for non-profit use to $5,000 for commercial enterprise.

#16. Fatcat – wiki for bibliographic catalog 

scientific papers search engine

Fatcat is an open bibliographic catalog of written works. The scope of works is somewhat flexible, with a focus on published research outputs like journal articles, pre-prints, and conference proceedings. Records are collaboratively editable, versioned, available in bulk form, and include URL-agnostic file-level metadata.

  • Open source and collaborative
  • You can be part of the community that is very focused on its mission
  • The archival file-level metadata (verified digests and long-term copies) is a great feature.
  • Could prove to be another rabbit hole
  • People either love or hate the text-only interface

#17. Lexis Web – Legal database

scientific papers search engine

Are you researching legal topics? You can turn to Lexis Web for any law-related questions you may have. The results are drawn from legal sites and can be filtered based on criteria such as news, blogs, government, and commercial. Additionally, users can filter results by jurisdiction, practice area, source and file format.

  • Results are drawn from legal sites.
  • Filters are available based on criteria such as news, blogs, government, and commercial.
  • Users can filter results by jurisdiction, practice area, source and file format.
  • Not all law-related questions will be answered by this search engine.
  • Coverage is limited to legal sites only.

Lexis Web is free for up to three searches per day. After that, a subscription is required.

#18. Infotopia – part of the VLRC family

scientific papers search engine

Infotopia touts itself as an “alternative to Google safe search.” Scholarly book results are curated by librarians, teachers, and other educational workers. Users can select from a range of topics such as art, health, and science and technology, and then see a list of resources pertaining to the topic. 

Consequently, if you aren’t able to find what you are looking for within Infotopia’s pages, you will probably find it on one of its many suggested websites.

#19. Virtual Learning Resources Center

scientific papers search engine

Virtual Learning Resources Center (VLRC) is an academic search engine that features thousands of academic sites chosen by educators and librarians worldwide. Using an index generated from a research portal, university, and library internet subject guides, students and instructors can find current, authoritative information for school.

  • Thousands of academic information websites indexed by it. You will also be able to get more refined results with custom Google search, which will speed up your research. 
  • Many people consider VLRC as one of the best free search engines to start looking for research material. 
  • TeachThought rated the Virtual LRC #3 in it’s list of 100 Search Engines For Academic Research
  • More relevant to education 
  • More relevant to students

scientific papers search engine

Powered by Google Custom Search Engine (CSE), Jurn is a free online search engine for accessing and downloading free full-text scholarly papers. It was created by David Haden in a public open beta version in February 2009, initially for locating open access electronic journal articles in the arts and humanities.

After the indexing process was completed, a website containing additional public directories of web links to indexed publications was introduced in mid-2009. The Jurn search service and directory has been regularly modified and cleaned since then.

  • A great resource for finding academic papers that are behind paywalls.
  • The content is updated regularly.uren

Jurn is free to use.

#21. WorldWideScience

scientific papers search engine

The Office of Scientific and Technical Information—a branch of the Office of Science within the U.S. Department of Energy—hosts the portal WorldWideScience , which has dubbed itself “The Global Science Gateway.”

Over 70 countries’ databases are used on the website. When a user enters a query, it contacts databases from all across the world and shows results in both English and translated journals and academic resources.

  • Results can be filtered by language and type of resource
  • Interface is easy to use
  • Contains both academic journal articles and translated academic resources 
  • The website can be difficult to navigate.

WorldWideScience is free to use.

#22. Google Books

scientific papers search engine

A user can browse thousands of books on Google Books, from popular titles to old titles, to find pages that include their search terms. You can look through pages, read online reviews, and find out where to buy a hard copy once you find the book you are interested in.

#23. DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)

scientific papers search engine

DOAJ is a free search engine for scientific and scholarly materials. It is a searchable database with over 8,000 peer-reviewed research papers organized by subject. It’s one of the most comprehensive libraries of scientific and scholarly resources, with over 8,000 journals available on a variety of themes.

#24. Baidu Scholar

scientific papers search engine

Baidu Xueshu (Academic) is the Chinese version for Google Scholar. IDU Scholar indexes academic papers from a variety of disciplines in both Chinese and English.

  • Articles are available in full text PDF.
  • Covers a variety of academic disciplines.
  • No abstracts are available for most articles, but summaries are provided for some.
  • A great portal that takes you to different specialized research platform
  • You need to be able to read Chinese to use the site
  • Since 2021 there is a rise of focus on China and the Chinese Communist Party

Baidu Scholar is free to use.

#25. PubMed Central

scientific papers search engine

PubMed is a free search engine that provides references and abstracts for medical, life sciences, and biomedical topics.

If you’re studying anything related to healthcare or science, this site is perfect. PublicMed Central is operated by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It contains more than 3 million full-text journal articles. 

It’s similar to PubMed Health, which focuses on health-related research and includes abstracts and citations to over 26 million articles.

#26. MEDLINE®

scientific papers search engine

MEDLINE® is a paid subscription database for life sciences and biomedicine that includes more than 28 million citations to journal articles. For finding reliable, carefully chosen health information, Medline Plus provides a powerful search tool and even a dictionary.

  • A great database for life sciences and biomedicine.
  • Contains more than 28 million references to journal articles.
  • References can be filtered by date, type of document, and language.
  • The database is expensive to access.
  • Some people find it difficult to navigate and find what they are looking for.

MEDLINE is not free to use ( pricing information ).

Defunct Academic Search Engines 

#27. microsoft academic  .

Microsoft Academic

Microsoft Academic Search seemed to be a failure from the beginning. It ended in 2012, then re-launched in 2016 as Microsoft Academic. It provides the researcher with the opportunity to search academic publications,

Microsoft Academic used to be the second-largest academic search engine after Google Scholar. Microsoft Academic provides a wealth of data for free, but Microsoft has announced that it will shut Microsoft Academic down in by 2022. 

#28. Scizzle

scientific papers search engine

Designed to help researchers stay on top of the literature by setting up email alerts, based on key terms, for newspapers.

Unfortunately, academic search engines come and go. These are two that are no longer available.

Final Thoughts

There are many academic search engines that can help researchers and scholars find the information they need. This list provides a variety of options, starting with more familiar engines and moving on to less well-known ones. 

Keeping an open mind and exploring different sources is essential for conducting effective online research. With so much information at our fingertips, it’s important to make sure we’re using the best tools available to us.

Tell us in the comment below which academic search engine have you not heard of? Which database do you think we should add? What database do your professional societies use? What are the most useful academic websites for research in your opinion?

There is more.

Check out our other articles on the Best Academic Tools Series for Research below.

  • Learn how to get more done with these Academic Writing Tools  
  • Learn how to proofread your work with these Proofreading Tools
  • Learn how to broaden your research landscape with these Academic Search Engines
  • Learn how to manage multiple research projects with these Project Management Tools
  • Learn how to run effective survey research with these Survey Tools for Research
  • Learn how get more insights from important conversations and interviews with Transcription Tools
  • Learn how to manage the ever-growing list of references with these Reference Management Software
  • Learn how to double your productivity with literature reviews with these AI-Based Summary Generators
  • Learn how to build and develop your audience with these Academic Social Network Sites
  • Learn how to make sure your content is original and trustworthy with these Plagiarism Checkers
  • Learn how to talk about your work effectively with these Science Communication Tools

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10 thoughts on “28 Best Academic Search Engines That make your research easier”

Thank you so much Joannah..I have found this information useful to me as librarian in an academic library

You are welcome! We are happy to hear that!

Thank You Team, for providing a comprehensive list of academic search engines that can help make research easier for students and scholars. The variety of search engines included offers a range of options for finding scholarly articles, journals, and other academic resources. The article also provides a brief summary of each search engine’s features, which helps in determining which one is the best fit for a specific research topic. Overall, this article is a valuable resource for anyone looking for a quick and easy way to access a wealth of academic information.

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us. We are delighted to hear that you found our list of academic search engines helpful in making research easier for students and scholars. We understand the importance of having a variety of options when it comes to finding scholarly articles, journals, and other academic resources, and we strive to provide a comprehensive list of resources to meet those needs.

We are glad that you found the brief summary of each search engine’s features helpful in determining which one is the best fit for a specific research topic. Our goal is to make it easy for our readers to access valuable academic information and we’re glad that we were able to achieve that for you.

We appreciate your support and thank you for your kind words. We will continue to provide valuable resources for students and researchers in the future. Please let us know if you have any further questions or suggestions.

No more questions Thank You

I cannot thank you enough!!! thanks alot 🙂

Typography animation is a technique that combines text and motion to create visually engaging and dynamic animations. It involves animating individual letters, words, or phrases in various ways to convey a message, evoke emotions, or enhance the visual impact of a design or video. – Typography Animation Techniques Tools and Online Software {43}

Hi Joannah! Here’s another one you may want to add! Expontum ( https://www.expontum.com/ ) – Helps researchers quickly find knowledge gaps and identify what research projects have been completed before. Thanks!

Expontum – Helps researchers quickly find knowledge gaps and identify what research projects have been completed before. Expontum is free, open access, and available to all globally with no paid versions of the site. Automated processes scan research article information 24/7 so this website is constantly updating. By looking at over 35 million research publications (240 million by the end of 2023), the site has 146 million tagged research subjects and 122 million tagged research attributes. Learn more about methodology and sources on the Expontum About Page ( https://www.expontum.com/about.php )

Hey Ryan, I clicked and checked your site and thought it was very relevant to our reader. Thank you for sharing. And, we will be reviewing your site soon.

Sounds good! Thanks, Joannah!

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The best AI tools for research papers and academic research (Literature review, grants, PDFs and more)

As our collective understanding and application of artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve, so too does the realm of academic research. Some people are scared by it while others are openly embracing the change. 

Make no mistake, AI is here to stay!

Instead of tirelessly scrolling through hundreds of PDFs, a powerful AI tool comes to your rescue, summarizing key information in your research papers. Instead of manually combing through citations and conducting literature reviews, an AI research assistant proficiently handles these tasks.

These aren’t futuristic dreams, but today’s reality. Welcome to the transformative world of AI-powered research tools!

The influence of AI in scientific and academic research is an exciting development, opening the doors to more efficient, comprehensive, and rigorous exploration.

This blog post will dive deeper into these tools, providing a detailed review of how AI is revolutionizing academic research. We’ll look at the tools that can make your literature review process less tedious, your search for relevant papers more precise, and your overall research process more efficient and fruitful.

I know that I wish these were around during my time in academia. It can be quite confronting when trying to work out what ones you should and shouldn’t use. A new one seems to be coming out every day!

Here is everything you need to know about AI for academic research and the ones I have personally trialed on my Youtube channel.

Best ChatGPT interface – Chat with PDFs/websites and more

I get more out of ChatGPT with HeyGPT . It can do things that ChatGPT cannot which makes it really valuable for researchers.

Use your own OpenAI API key ( h e re ). No login required. Access ChatGPT anytime, including peak periods. Faster response time. Unlock advanced functionalities with HeyGPT Ultra for a one-time lifetime subscription

AI literature search and mapping – best AI tools for a literature review – elicit and more

Harnessing AI tools for literature reviews and mapping brings a new level of efficiency and precision to academic research. No longer do you have to spend hours looking in obscure research databases to find what you need!

AI-powered tools like Semantic Scholar and elicit.org use sophisticated search engines to quickly identify relevant papers.

They can mine key information from countless PDFs, drastically reducing research time. You can even search with semantic questions, rather than having to deal with key words etc.

With AI as your research assistant, you can navigate the vast sea of scientific research with ease, uncovering citations and focusing on academic writing. It’s a revolutionary way to take on literature reviews.

  • Elicit –  https://elicit.org
  • Supersymmetry.ai: https://www.supersymmetry.ai
  • Semantic Scholar: https://www.semanticscholar.org
  • Connected Papers –  https://www.connectedpapers.com/
  • Research rabbit – https://www.researchrabbit.ai/
  • Laser AI –  https://laser.ai/
  • Litmaps –  https://www.litmaps.com
  • Inciteful –  https://inciteful.xyz/
  • Scite –  https://scite.ai/
  • System –  https://www.system.com

If you like AI tools you may want to check out this article:

  • How to get ChatGPT to write an essay [The prompts you need]

AI-powered research tools and AI for academic research

AI research tools, like Concensus, offer immense benefits in scientific research. Here are the general AI-powered tools for academic research. 

These AI-powered tools can efficiently summarize PDFs, extract key information, and perform AI-powered searches, and much more. Some are even working towards adding your own data base of files to ask questions from. 

Tools like scite even analyze citations in depth, while AI models like ChatGPT elicit new perspectives.

The result? The research process, previously a grueling endeavor, becomes significantly streamlined, offering you time for deeper exploration and understanding. Say goodbye to traditional struggles, and hello to your new AI research assistant!

  • Bit AI –  https://bit.ai/
  • Consensus –  https://consensus.app/
  • Exper AI –  https://www.experai.com/
  • Hey Science (in development) –  https://www.heyscience.ai/
  • Iris AI –  https://iris.ai/
  • PapersGPT (currently in development) –  https://jessezhang.org/llmdemo
  • Research Buddy –  https://researchbuddy.app/
  • Mirror Think – https://mirrorthink.ai

AI for reading peer-reviewed papers easily

Using AI tools like Explain paper and Humata can significantly enhance your engagement with peer-reviewed papers. I always used to skip over the details of the papers because I had reached saturation point with the information coming in. 

These AI-powered research tools provide succinct summaries, saving you from sifting through extensive PDFs – no more boring nights trying to figure out which papers are the most important ones for you to read!

They not only facilitate efficient literature reviews by presenting key information, but also find overlooked insights.

With AI, deciphering complex citations and accelerating research has never been easier.

  • Open Read –  https://www.openread.academy
  • Chat PDF – https://www.chatpdf.com
  • Explain Paper – https://www.explainpaper.com
  • Humata – https://www.humata.ai/
  • Lateral AI –  https://www.lateral.io/
  • Paper Brain –  https://www.paperbrain.study/
  • Scholarcy – https://www.scholarcy.com/
  • SciSpace Copilot –  https://typeset.io/
  • Unriddle – https://www.unriddle.ai/
  • Sharly.ai – https://www.sharly.ai/

AI for scientific writing and research papers

In the ever-evolving realm of academic research, AI tools are increasingly taking center stage.

Enter Paper Wizard, Jenny.AI, and Wisio – these groundbreaking platforms are set to revolutionize the way we approach scientific writing.

Together, these AI tools are pioneering a new era of efficient, streamlined scientific writing.

  • Paper Wizard –  https://paperwizard.ai/
  • Jenny.AI https://jenni.ai/ (20% off with code ANDY20)
  • Wisio – https://www.wisio.app

AI academic editing tools

In the realm of scientific writing and editing, artificial intelligence (AI) tools are making a world of difference, offering precision and efficiency like never before. Consider tools such as Paper Pal, Writefull, and Trinka.

Together, these tools usher in a new era of scientific writing, where AI is your dedicated partner in the quest for impeccable composition.

  • Paper Pal –  https://paperpal.com/
  • Writefull –  https://www.writefull.com/
  • Trinka –  https://www.trinka.ai/

AI tools for grant writing

In the challenging realm of science grant writing, two innovative AI tools are making waves: Granted AI and Grantable.

These platforms are game-changers, leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to streamline and enhance the grant application process.

Granted AI, an intelligent tool, uses AI algorithms to simplify the process of finding, applying, and managing grants. Meanwhile, Grantable offers a platform that automates and organizes grant application processes, making it easier than ever to secure funding.

Together, these tools are transforming the way we approach grant writing, using the power of AI to turn a complex, often arduous task into a more manageable, efficient, and successful endeavor.

  • Granted AI – https://grantedai.com/
  • Grantable – https://grantable.co/

Free AI research tools

There are many different tools online that are emerging for researchers to be able to streamline their research processes. There’s no need for convience to come at a massive cost and break the bank.

The best free ones at time of writing are:

  • Elicit – https://elicit.org
  • Connected Papers – https://www.connectedpapers.com/
  • Litmaps – https://www.litmaps.com ( 10% off Pro subscription using the code “STAPLETON” )
  • Consensus – https://consensus.app/

Wrapping up

The integration of artificial intelligence in the world of academic research is nothing short of revolutionary.

With the array of AI tools we’ve explored today – from research and mapping, literature review, peer-reviewed papers reading, scientific writing, to academic editing and grant writing – the landscape of research is significantly transformed.

The advantages that AI-powered research tools bring to the table – efficiency, precision, time saving, and a more streamlined process – cannot be overstated.

These AI research tools aren’t just about convenience; they are transforming the way we conduct and comprehend research.

They liberate researchers from the clutches of tedium and overwhelm, allowing for more space for deep exploration, innovative thinking, and in-depth comprehension.

Whether you’re an experienced academic researcher or a student just starting out, these tools provide indispensable aid in your research journey.

And with a suite of free AI tools also available, there is no reason to not explore and embrace this AI revolution in academic research.

We are on the precipice of a new era of academic research, one where AI and human ingenuity work in tandem for richer, more profound scientific exploration. The future of research is here, and it is smart, efficient, and AI-powered.

Before we get too excited however, let us remember that AI tools are meant to be our assistants, not our masters. As we engage with these advanced technologies, let’s not lose sight of the human intellect, intuition, and imagination that form the heart of all meaningful research. Happy researching!

Thank you to Ivan Aguilar – Ph.D. Student at SFU (Simon Fraser University), for starting this list for me!

scientific papers search engine

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.

Thank you for visiting Academia Insider.

We are here to help you navigate Academia as painlessly as possible. We are supported by our readers and by visiting you are helping us earn a small amount through ads and affiliate revenue - Thank you!

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AI Search Engine for Research

Consensus is a search engine that uses AI to find insights in research papers

& start searching now!

Why Consensus?

Consensus responsibly uses AI to help you conduct effective research

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Search through over 200 million scientific papers without having to keyword match

All of our results are tied to actual studies, we cite our sources and we will never show you ads

Proprietary and purpose-built features that leverage GPT4 and other LLMs to summarize results for you

Used by researchers at the world’s top institutions

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researchers, students, doctors, professionals and evidence-conscious consumers choose Consensus

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Consensus vs ChatGPT

ChatGPT is built to have a conversation with you. Consensus is purpose-built to help you conduct effective research.

Results pulled directly from peer-reviewed studies

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Can This A.I.-Powered Search Engine Replace Google? It Has for Me.

A start-up called Perplexity shows what’s possible for a search engine built from scratch with artificial intelligence.

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An illustration of a man at a computer screen with a colorful array of objects behind it.

By Kevin Roose

Kevin Roose used the Perplexity search engine for several weeks to report this column.

For my entire adult life, whenever I’ve had a question about the world or needed to track down something online, I’ve gone to Google for answers.

But recently, I’ve been stepping out on Google with a new, A.I.-powered search engine. (No, not Bing, which is dead to me after it tried to break up my marriage last year.)

It’s called Perplexity. The year-old search engine , whose founders previously worked in A.I. research at OpenAI and Meta, has quickly become one of the most buzzed-about products in the tech world. Tech insiders rave about it on social media, and investors like Jeff Bezos — who was also an early investor in Google — have showered it with cash. The company recently announced that it had raised $74 million in a funding round led by Institutional Venture Partners, which valued the company at $520 million.

Many start-ups have tried and failed to challenge Google over the years. (One would-be competitor, Neeva, shut down last year after failing to gain traction.) But Google seems less invincible these days. Many users have complained that their Google search results have gotten clogged with spammy, low-quality websites, and some people have started looking for answers in places like Reddit and TikTok instead.

Intrigued by the hype, I recently spent several weeks using Perplexity as my default search engine on both desktop and mobile. I tested both the free version and the paid product, Perplexity Pro, which costs $20 per month and gives users access to more powerful A.I. models and certain features, such as the ability to upload their own files.

Hundreds of searches later, I can report that even though Perplexity isn’t perfect, it’s very good. And while I’m not ready to break up with Google entirely, I’m now more convinced that A.I.-powered search engines like Perplexity could loosen Google’s grip on the search market, or at least force it to play catch-up.

I’m also scared that A.I. search engines could destroy my job, and that the entire digital media industry could collapse as a result of products like them. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Where it shines

scientific papers search engine

At first glance, Perplexity’s desktop interface looks a lot like Google’s — a text box centered on a sparse landing page.

But as soon as you start typing, the differences become obvious. When you ask a question, Perplexity doesn’t give you back a list of links. Instead, it scours the web for you and uses A.I. to write a summary of what it finds. These answers are annotated with links to the sources the A.I. used, which also appear in a panel above the response.

I tested Perplexity on hundreds of queries, including questions about current events (“How did Nikki Haley do in the New Hampshire primary?”), shopping recommendations (“What’s the best dog food for a senior dog with joint pain?”) and household tasks (“How long does beef stew stay good in the fridge?”).

Each time, I got back an A.I.-generated response, generally a paragraph or two long, sprinkled with citations to websites like NPR, The New York Times and Reddit, along with a list of suggested follow-up questions I could ask, such as “Can you freeze beef stew to make it last longer?”

One impressive Perplexity feature is “Copilot,” which helps a user narrow down a query by asking clarifying questions. When I asked for ideas on where to host a birthday party for a 2-year-old, for example, Copilot asked whether I wanted suggestions for outdoor spaces, indoor spaces or both. When I selected “indoor,” it asked me to choose a rough budget for the party. Only then did it give me a list of possible venues.

Perplexity also allows users to search within a specific set of sources, such as academic papers, YouTube videos or Reddit posts. This came in handy when I was looking up how to change a setting on my house’s water heater. (Exciting stuff, I know.) A Google search yielded a bunch of less-than-helpful links to D.I.Y. tutorials, some of which were thinly veiled ads for plumbing companies. I tried the same query on Perplexity, and narrowed my search to YouTube videos. Perplexity found the video I needed for my exact model of water heater, extracted the relevant information from the video and turned it into step-by-step instructions.

Under the hood, Perplexity runs on OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 model along with its own A.I. model — a variant of Meta’s open-source Llama 2 model. Users who upgrade to the Pro version can choose between a handful of different models, including GPT-4 and Anthropic’s Claude. (I used GPT-4 for most of my searches, but I didn’t see much of a difference in the quality of the answers when I chose other models.)

Perplexity is also refreshingly good at admitting when it doesn’t know something. Sometimes, it gave a partial response to my question, with a caveat like “No further details are provided in the search results.” Most A.I. chat products I’ve used lack this kind of humility — their responses sound confident even when they’re spouting nonsense.

Where Google still reigns

During my tests, I found Perplexity most useful for complicated or open-ended searches, such as summarizing recent news articles about a specific company or giving me suggestions for date-night restaurants. I also found it useful when what I was looking for — instructions for renewing a passport, for example — was buried on a crowded, hard-to-navigate website.

But I did sneak back to Google for a few types of searches — usually, when I was looking up specific people or trying to go to websites I already knew existed. For example: When I typed “Wayback Machine” into my browser’s search bar, I was redirected to Perplexity, which spit out a paragraph-long essay about the history of the Internet Archive, the organization that maintains the Wayback Machine. I had to hunt for a small citation link to get to the Wayback Machine’s website, which is what I wanted in the first place.

A similar thing happened when I asked Perplexity for driving directions to a work meeting. Google would have given me turn-by-turn directions from my house, thanks to its integration with Google Maps. But Perplexity doesn’t know where I live, so the best it could offer me was a link to MapQuest.

Location data is just one of the many advantages Google has over Perplexity. Size is another — Perplexity, which has just 41 employees and is based out of a shared working space in San Francisco, has 10 million monthly active users, an impressive number for a young start-up but a speck compared with Google’s billions.

Perplexity also lacks a lucrative business model. Right now, the site has no ads and fewer than 100,000 people paying for the premium version, said Aravind Srinivas, the company’s chief executive. (Mr. Srinivas didn’t rule out switching to an ads-based model in the future.) And, of course, Perplexity doesn’t offer versions of Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Docs or any of the dozens of other products that make Google’s ecosystem so inescapable.

Mr. Srinivas told me in an interview that while he believed Google was a formidable competitor, he thought that a small, focused start-up could give it a startle.

“What makes me confident is the fact that, if they want to do it better than us, they would basically have to kill their own business model,” he said.

What about hallucinations?

One problem with A.I.-based search engines is that they tend to hallucinate, or make up answers, and sometimes stray from their source material. This problem has haunted several A.I.-search hybrids, including Google’s initial release of Bard , and it remains one of the biggest barriers to mass adoption.

In my testing, I found that Perplexity’s answers were mostly accurate — or, to be more precise, they were as accurate as the sources they drew upon.

I did find a few errors. When I asked Perplexity when Novak Djokovic’s next tennis match was, it gave me the details of a match he’d already finished. Another time, when I uploaded a PDF file of a new A.I. research paper and asked Perplexity to summarize it, I got a summary of an entirely different paper that was published three years ago.

Mr. Srinivas acknowledged that A.I.-powered search engines still made mistakes. He said that because Perplexity was a small, relatively obscure product, users didn’t expect it to be as authoritative as Google — and that Google would struggle to build generative A.I. into its search engine because it needed to uphold its reputation for accuracy.

“Let’s say you use our product and we do well on eight out of 10 queries. You’d be impressed,” Mr. Srinivas said. “Now let’s say you use Google’s product and it only gets seven out of 10. You’d be like, ‘How can Google get three queries wrong ?’”

“That asymmetry is our opportunity,” he added.

A win for users, a loss for publishers

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Even though I enjoyed using Perplexity, and I’m likely to keep using it in tandem with Google, I’ll admit that I got a gnawing feeling in my stomach after seeing it spit out pristine, concise summaries of news stories, product reviews and how-to articles.

Much of today’s digital media economy still relies on a steady flow of people clicking on links from Google, and being served ads on publishers’ websites.

But with Perplexity, there’s usually no need to visit a website at all — the A.I. does the browsing for you and gives you all the information you need right there on the answer page.

The possibility that A.I.-powered search engines could replace Google traffic — or spur Google to put similar features into its search engine, as it has started doing with its “search generative experience” experiment — is partly why many digital publishers are terrified right now. It’s also part of the reason some are fighting back, including The Times, which sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement last year .

After using Perplexity, and hearing about similar products being developed by other start-ups, I’m convinced that the worriers have a point. If A.I. search engines can reliably summarize what’s happening in Gaza, or tell users which toaster to buy, why would anyone visit a publisher’s website ever again? Why would journalists, bloggers and product reviewers continue to put their work online if an A.I. search engine is just going to gobble it up and regurgitate it?

I brought these fears up to Mr. Srinivas, who responded with a diplomatic dodge. He conceded that Perplexity would probably send less traffic to websites than traditional search engines. But he said the traffic that remained would be higher quality and easier for publishers to monetize, because it would be the result of better, more targeted queries.

I’m skeptical of that argument, and I’m still nervous about what the future holds for writers, publishers and people who consume online media.

So for now, I’ll have to weigh the convenience of using Perplexity against the worry that, by using it, I’m contributing to my own doom.

Kevin Roose is a Times technology columnist and a host of the podcast " Hard Fork ." More about Kevin Roose

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The F.T.C. outlawed unwanted robocalls generated by A.I. , amid growing concerns over election disinformation and consumer fraud facilitated by the technology.

Google has released Gemini, a smartphone app that behaves like a talking digital assistant as well as a conversational chatbot .

The Age of A.I.

Amid an intractable real estate crisis, fake luxury houses offer a delusion of one’s own. Here’s how A.I. is remodeling the fantasy home .

New technology has made it easier to insert digital, realistic-looking versions of soda cans and shampoo on videos on social media. A growing group of creators and advertisers is jumping at the chance for an additional revenue stream .

A start-up called Perplexity shows what’s possible for a search engine built from scratch with A.I. Are the days of turning to Google for answers numbered ?

Chafing at their dependence on the chipmaker Nvidia, Amazon, Google, Meta and Microsoft are racing to build A.I. chips of their own .

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  • 07 February 2024

Fake research papers flagged by analysing authorship trends

  • Dalmeet Singh Chawla

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A new method searches the scholarly literature for trends in authorship that indicate paper-mill activity. Credit: Zoonar GmbH/Alamy

A research-technology firm has developed a new approach to help identify journal articles that originate from paper mills — companies that churn out fake or poor-quality studies and sell authorships.

The technique, described in a preprint posted on arXiv last month 1 , uses factors such as the combination of a paper’s authors to flag suspicious studies. Its developers at London-based firm Digital Science say it can help to identify cases in which researchers might have bought their way onto a paper.

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Science’s fake-paper problem: high-profile effort will tackle paper mills

Previous efforts to detect the products of paper mills have tended to focus on analysing the content of the manuscripts. One online tool, for example, searches papers for tortured phrases — strange alternative turns of phrase for existing terminology produced by software designed to avoid plagiarism detection. Another tool, being piloted by the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers (STM), flags when identical manuscripts are submitted to several journals or publishers at the same time.

An approach that instead analyses the relationships between authors could be valuable as paper mills become better at producing convincing text , says Hylke Koers, chief information officer at the STM, who is based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. “This is the kind of signal that is much more difficult to work around or outcompete by clever use of generative AI.”

Unusual patterns

Paper mills are a growing problem for publishers — according to one estimate, around 2% of all published papers in 2022 resembled studies produced by paper mills — and in recent years publishers have stepped up efforts to tackle them .

As well as being of poor quality, often containing made-up data and nonsensical text, the articles that paper mills churn out are frequently padded with researchers who buy authorship on manuscripts already accepted for publication . Some paper mills claim to have brokered tens of thousands of authorships — including in journals that are indexed in respected databases, such as Web of Science and Scopus.

This can create unusual patterns of co-authorship and networks of researchers that are different from those in legitimate research, says Simon Porter, vice-president for research futures at Digital Science.

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Multimillion-dollar trade in paper authorships alarms publishers

Under normal circumstances, “you would expect to find behaviour where a young researcher is publishing with their supervisor, and starts to branch out a little later and publish with other people”, Porter says. “You can see an evolution; it’s not a random network.”

This is not the case with paper-mill works. The technology that Porter developed, together with Leslie McIntosh, vice-president for research integrity at Digital Science, searches for trends that indicate paper-mill activity. These include co-author networks composed of early-career researchers who suddenly have a spike in publications, and papers featuring several authors who have no publication history or a collection of collaborators who are unlikely to have worked together, such as authors from several locations or unrelated disciplines.

When they compared the new technique’s results with those of the Problematic Paper Screener , a tool that searches for tortured phrases and other red flags, Porter and McIntosh identified a significant overlap. Around 10% of authors were directly flagged by both tools, their study found, and 72% of authors in the ‘author networks’ data set can be linked through co-authorship to those in the ‘tortured phrases’ data set.

Technology tricks

Although paper mills have quickly evolved so that fewer papers with tortured phrases are being published, Porter thinks the companies will find it difficult to circumvent flagging by these tools while keeping their current business model.

Digital Science has posted the code underlying the technique online , and Porter says that publishers could begin using it straight away.

Joris Van Rossum, programme director at STM Solutions in Amsterdam, says his organization will consider adding the new technology to the STM Integrity Hub — a collection of resources and tools designed to help publishers to detect fraudulent papers.

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AI intensifies fight against ‘paper mills’ that churn out fake research

Chris Graf, research-integrity director at Springer Nature in London, says that obstacles remain, particularly in distinguishing between researchers who share a name and weeding out authors who are flagged erroneously. “We have found that there can be some challenges with data consistency in this context that mean this is not straightforward,” Graf says. “Very brilliant young researchers with a low cluster coefficient could show up as false positives, which is clearly far from ideal.” But he adds: “Having said that, we are exploring a lot of different options, and nothing is off the table.” ( Nature ’s news team is independent of Springer Nature, its publisher.)

Anna Abalkina, a sociologist at the Free University of Berlin who has been tracking paper-mill studies for years, says it’s a good idea to scrutinize author networks. “Paper mills definitely do have collaboration anomalies,” she says.

Abalkina warns, however, that our knowledge of paper mills’ business models and processes is limited. It is also difficult to prove that a published study is definitely the product of a paper mill, she notes, which makes it hard to use that as a reason for retraction.

Ultimately, “it’s going to take every trick in the book to be able to provide a convincing filter for paper mills”, Porter says. “It won’t just be one technique.”

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-024-00344-w

Porter, S. J. & McIntosh, L. D. Preprint at arXiv https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2401.04022 (2024).

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‘The situation has become appalling’: fake scientific papers push research credibility to crisis point

Last year, 10,000 sham papers had to be retracted by academic journals, but experts think this is just the tip of the iceberg

Tens of thousands of bogus research papers are being published in journals in an international scandal that is worsening every year, scientists have warned. Medical research is being compromised, drug development hindered and promising academic research jeopardised thanks to a global wave of sham science that is sweeping laboratories and universities.

Last year the annual number of papers retracted by research journals topped 10,000 for the first time. Most analysts believe the figure is only the tip of an iceberg of scientific fraud .

“The situation has become appalling,” said Professor Dorothy Bishop of Oxford University. “The level of publishing of fraudulent papers is creating serious problems for science. In many fields it is becoming difficult to build up a cumulative approach to a subject, because we lack a solid foundation of trustworthy findings. And it’s getting worse and worse.”

The startling rise in the publication of sham science papers has its roots in China, where young doctors and scientists seeking promotion were required to have published scientific papers. Shadow organisations – known as “paper mills” – began to supply fabricated work for publication in journals there.

The practice has since spread to India, Iran, Russia, former Soviet Union states and eastern Europe, with paper mills supplying ­fabricated studies to more and more journals as increasing numbers of young ­scientists try to boost their careers by claiming false research experience. In some cases, journal editors have been bribed to accept articles, while paper mills have managed to establish their own agents as guest editors who then allow reams of ­falsified work to be published.

Dr Dorothy Bishop sitting in a garden

“Editors are not fulfilling their roles properly, and peer reviewers are not doing their jobs. And some are being paid large sums of money,” said Professor Alison Avenell of Aberdeen University. “It is deeply worrying.”

The products of paper mills often look like regular articles but are based on templates in which names of genes or diseases are slotted in at random among fictitious tables and figures. Worryingly, these articles can then get incorporated into large databases used by those working on drug discovery.

Others are more bizarre and include research unrelated to a journal’s field, making it clear that no peer review has taken place in relation to that article. An example is a paper on Marxist ideology that appeared in the journal Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine . Others are distinctive because of the strange language they use, including references to “bosom peril” rather than breast cancer and “Parkinson’s ailment” rather Parkinson’s disease.

Watchdog groups – such as Retraction Watch – have tracked the problem and have noted retractions by journals that were forced to act on occasions when fabrications were uncovered. One study, by Nature , revealed that in 2013 there were just over 1,000 retractions. In 2022, the figure topped 4,000 before jumping to more than 10,000 last year.

Of this last total, more than 8,000 retracted papers had been published in journals owned by Hindawi, a subsidiary of the publisher Wiley, figures that have now forced the company to act. “We will be sunsetting the Hindawi brand and have begun to fully integrate the 200-plus Hindawi journals into Wiley’s ­portfolio,” a Wiley spokesperson told the Observer .

The spokesperson added that Wiley had now identified hundreds of fraudsters present in its portfolio of journals, as well as those who had held guest editorial roles. “We have removed them from our systems and will continue to take a proactive … approach in our efforts to clean up the scholarly record, strengthen our integrity processes and contribute to cross-industry solutions.”

But Wiley insisted it could not tackle the crisis on its own, a message echoed by other publishers, which say they are under siege from paper mills. Academics remain cautious, however. The problem is that in many countries, academics are paid according to the number of papers they have published.

“If you have growing numbers of researchers who are being strongly incentivised to publish just for the sake of publishing, while we have a growing number of journals making money from publishing the resulting articles, you have a perfect storm,” said Professor Marcus Munafo of Bristol University. “That is exactly what we have now.”

The harm done by publishing poor or fabricated research is demonstrated by the anti-parasite drug ivermectin. Early laboratory studies indicated it could be used to treat Covid-19 and it was hailed as a miracle drug. However, it was later found these studies showed clear evidence of fraud, and medical authorities have refused to back it as a treatment for Covid.

“The trouble was, ivermectin was used by anti-vaxxers to say: ‘We don’t need vaccination because we have this wonder drug,’” said Jack Wilkinson at Manchester University. “But many of the trials that underpinned those claims were not authentic.”

Wilkinson added that he and his colleagues were trying to develop protocols that researchers could apply to reveal the authenticity of studies that they might include in their own work. “Some great science came out during the pandemic, but there was an ocean of rubbish research too. We need ways to pinpoint poor data right from the start.”

The danger posed by the rise of the paper mill and fraudulent research papers was also stressed by Professor Malcolm MacLeod of Edinburgh University. “If, as a scientist, I want to check all the papers about a particular drug that might target cancers or stroke cases, it is very hard for me to avoid those that are fabricated. Scientific knowledge is being polluted by made-up material. We are facing a crisis.”

This point was backed by Bishop: “People are building careers on the back of this tidal wave of fraudulent science and could end up running scientific institutes and eventually be used by mainstream journals as reviewers and editors. Corruption is creeping into the system.”

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