Literature review tools: Elicit, Open Syllabus, Connected Papers, and Annual Reviews

In this post, I would like to introduce some websites that can help you understand research trends when exploring new research questions. As the natural language processing (NLP) technique continues to evolve, tools that can summarize papers and easily extract information are being developed and improved at a rapid pace. These websites are ones that I currently use and are useful.


  • Elicit: The AI Research Assistant
  • Elicit is a tool that summarizes prior research using natural language processing technology and machine learning algorithms. I highly recommend using it when exploring new topics. It is especially helpful for those studying social work, psychology, public health, and related fields.
  • If you type in your question, Elicit summarizes the papers by Takeaway from the abstract, Number of participants, Intervention, and Outcomes measured. And you can sort or filter according to these items.

Open Syllabus

  • It is a website that collects and visualizes papers/books cited in the syllabus of courses worldwide. This is great to find out which ‘must-read’ articles are the first time you browse a particular topic.
  • You can search by field, school, subject, country, etc. with various options.
  • Below is an example of a social work search. When you select a specific reference, they show recommended books/articles that are assigned.
  • Open Syllabus Galaxy:
    • It is an extended service of the above service, but it visualizes on a map when you search for a specific keyword. Easy to search by topic.
  • A syllabus can also be found by googling a specific topic + syllabus + filetype:pdf. By searching for syllabi published by university professors, you can find reading lists and self-teach based on them.

Connected papers

    • If you search for a specific topic, you can select one related paper and view the Citation network for each paper. The node size indicates the number of citations, and the node density indicates the recent publication year.
    • Below is an example of a search.

Annual Reviews

    • On this website, you can only search for review papers. Indeed, you can also search for keywords in Google Scholar, but this is a more straightforward method, so I recommend searching review papers on a specific topic (if applicable) before diving into google scholar to know the “trend” of that research topic.

  • March 18, 2022