Artificial Intelligence Makes Literature Review Easier
I love trying out new educational technology -- especially tools that I can use in my own work. Currently, I am deep in the process of writing a dissertation proposal. It feels like a never-ending quest through research databases and libraries. Thousands of keyword combinations, Boolean operators, skimming abstracts, reading reams of journal articles, mining bibliographies for seminal works, and distilling it all into a few words for my manuscript... I love it, but it is slow work.
I stumbled onto elicit.org last week and am really excited about its potential. I have not mastered all of its features, but wanted to share this quick first-impression review in case it helps anyone else. It's always deadline season, right? Watch my five-minute overview video here.
The first thing I noticed about elicit.org is that it searches a research question instead of keywords. I tried asking a question about the impact of intrinsic motivation on women's career persistence. The AI offers additional questions to help you decide what to search, and I like using a combination of my own questions and the suggested queries.
I took a snapshot of the search results page to provide an overview of some of elicit.org's features at a glance.
The results are filterable and sortable, which is a quick way to narrow down a long list. For example, if you are working on a literature review and need to find the seminal works in the field, it is helpful to sort the results by citations. This will move the most-cited articles to the top of your list. If you see papers with hundreds or thousands of citations, that is a good sign that you should be familiar with those studies.
Use the Has PDF toggle to limit results to those with PDFs available. This feature helps avoid wasting time on paywalled articles if you don't have a subscription to the publication.
Elicit provides an AI-generated summary of the top four search results. This is a dynamic feature that refreshes when you filter or sort the results. I would not suggest using this summary as a replacement for your own analysis, but it is an interesting tool to include between skimming abstracts and reading full papers. I love seeing how it changes when I update the search results. This bit really fascinates me.
You can also filter the search results by study type. If you know you want to see longitudinal studies or randomized controlled trials, you can narrow down your list accordingly.
Once you are satisfied with your search, you can export the results. I downloaded several CSV files with results from different versions of my search question. These are now populating a spreadsheet of more than 120 articles that I am reading and analyzing for my literature review chapter.
It does more, but this is just a quick introduction.
I hope this helps with your literature search and saves some time combing through databases. Elicit.org will not replace those searches, but it is a fun and helpful addition to the research toolbox.