The Best AI Tool For Academic Research
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The Best AI Tool For Academic Research

The Best AI Tool For Academic Research

Updated
Published
May 8, 2024

SciSpace is our top pick for AI tools for academic research. We've tested 4 AI tools that simplify the research process and can help you save tons of time.

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Ranked: Best AI Tools for Research

| Tool | The good & the bad | Best for | Pricing | |-------------------------|-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|------------------------------|---------------------------------------------------------------------------| | Scipace | ➕ Generous free access
➕ Summarized insights
➕ Free unlimited access to Copilot
➕ Extract data from own PDFs
➖ No filters for non-English papers | Making literature reviews | Free access to most features; Premium starts at $20/month | | Consensus | ➕ Quick insights on yes/no questions
➕ Labels on paper type and scientific rigor
➕ Ask Consensus directly from ChatGPT
➖ Credits easily run out | Finding answers backed by research | Free 20 AI credits to access all features; Premium starts at $11.99/month | | Elicit | ➕ Organize papers into notebooks
➕ Clean and sleek user interface
➕ Easy-to-view insights
➖ Not enough credits for extensive research | Organized research writing | Free 5000 credits to access all features
Plus: $12/month ($10/month for annual plan) | | Scite.ai | ➕ Smart citations
➕ Fully-cited paragraphs
➖ Heavily paywalled
➖ Cluttered UI | Writing citation statements | $15/month |

There is no doubt that AI is fundamentally changing how we learn about and write academic research. As a struggling student who’s barely staying afloat with all these workloads, using AI has been nothing but a lifesaver by helping me write papers twice the content for half the time. With the help of these 5 AI tools for academic research, you too can cut the hours you spend typing away and be more efficient with managing your assignments.

Every student knows all too well just how unmotivating research papers can be. I often found reading through all the gathered references to be most challenging as I simply don’t have the time for one menial task. Chances are, all that information will just go over my head. Now that I’m utilizing these AI tools, I no longer have to face those huge blocks of text and just jump right into writing.

Whether you’re a professional researcher or a regular student like me, I’m sure that we can all relate to not having enough time for any of our more relaxing hobbies. These AI tools for academic research can help reclaim some of that precious time, allowing you to spend it on something more meaningful to you.

How I tested these tools

With these AI-powered academic search engines, I figured it would be best to start by formulating a list of questions to ask them. I tried to balance it out with some being  generic while others being a bit more specific:

  1. What is the current state of fine-grained image classification technology?
  2. How does lack of sleep affect cognitive performance?
  3. What causes stunted growth in children?
  4. Do livestock produce greenhouse gasses?
  5. What is the significance of higher-dimensional algebra?

Moreover, for some of the tools that give you the option to upload a PDF to analyze from, I simply chose the 2023 study  “Learn from each other to Classify better: Cross-layer mutual attention learning for fine-grained visual classification” by Liu, D. et. al. Given my familiarity with this paper, I can cross-reference the AI’s outputs to my own analysis.

Key considerations

Relevance +

First thing of concern is the relevance of the studies to the search input. It should accurately identify academic papers that closely address the user’s specific research query and understand the context and intent behind their keywords, not just match them literally.

Accuracy & Conciseness +

Ideally, the AI-generated summaries should be short but accurate snapshots of the research. It should be able to faithfully represent the key points and findings of the original content while avoiding any misinterpretation or misleading information. It's important for us to grasp the gist of the paper quickly without needing to delve directly into the full paper.

Value +

To make sure you get the best value for your money, we checked to see if the free plan is robust enough to support the initial stages of research. While certain features like an advanced Copilot or unlimited use of Synthesize are reserved for paid plans, having a strong free tier is good proof of a platform's value by allowing users to evaluate its performance before committing to a subscription.

User-friendliness +

The interface should prioritize both clarity and functionality. A clean, uncluttered design with intuitive navigation is essential to prevent overloading the user with too much text.

Our top choice: Scispace (formerly Typeset)

Just by scrolling down, Scispace is able to provide tons of insights from numerous studies. Its intuitive and user-friendly interface simplifies the process of evaluating a paper’s relevance by presenting you with only the essential details.

From conducting research paper searches to jotting down notes, paraphrasing your text, and even running AI detection checks—everything is seamlessly integrated into one platform. The simplicity of having everything centralized reduces the need to switch between numerous tools and websites, making Scispace an excellent choice for researchers.

1. Scispace (formerly Typeset)

Best for making literature reviews

Get insights from top papers directly with Scispace. Ask questions, extract data, and paraphrase text.

The Good
Most of the features are available under its Basic (free) plan
Sections of the papers are summarized into columns for easy viewing
Free unlimited access to its Copilot for follow-up questions
Upload your own PDF files for quick analysis
The Bad
Some searches may push non-English papers on top with no way to filter them
Pricing
Basic (Free): Access to most features
Premium: $20/month ($12/month for annual plan)

Scispace simplifies the reading and comprehending process of research papers by giving concise yet comprehensive explanations. With over 6+ million users per month, there is no wonder why Scispace has become the go-to AI tool of both researchers and students alike.

I sometimes struggle with writing literature reviews since I have to comb through a large amount of research to find the information I need. Scispace makes this process easy due to its categorized columns that summarize key sections of the study. What’s more, you can tailor it based on your own research needs by simply typing in a new category.

Scispace grants the ability to create custom summaries. Simply click one from their recommendations or even type it in yourself.

One of its features that I ended up using a lot is their Copilot that quickly extracts key insights from my own uploaded research papers. Instead of spending hours poring over the text, I can simply ask Scispace’s Copilot for a synthesis, which helped me in establishing the paper’s connection and relevance to my study.

The best part is that most of these features are available for free, making it highly accessible for students who are on a tight budget.

Hop on Scispace and start researching through their website link here or on their own GPT.

2. Consensus

Best for finding answers backed by research

Uncover insights from scientific literature with Consensus.

The Good
Quick answers to yes/no questions with their Consensus meter
Helpful labels for the type of study and ranking issued by Sciscore
Access Consensus directly within ChatGPT through its built-in plugin
The Bad
Credits limit the use of the Synthesize and Copilot features
Pricing
Free: 20 AI credits per month
Premium: $11.99/month ($8.99/month for annual plan)

Whether users seek answers on niche topics like the importance of high-level algebra in contemporary society or more playful ones like the correlation between pizza consumption and height growth, Consensus stands to deliver accurate and evidence-based answers. Its smarter paper search and precisely extracted answers ensure that users are able to gather only relevant insights more efficiently.

One thing that stood out for me is the Synthesize function, which provides a summary from a list of studies. While similar functions exist on other platforms, what sets it apart is its Consensus meter, which evaluates multiple papers to deliver a definitive Yes or No answer. This is invaluable for those questions that prop up while writing your research paper, providing swift answers with the evidence to accompany it.

Additionally, each source comes with insightful indicators that explain the type of study which helped me grasp the paper's approach much faster. Studies ranking high on Sciscore are also marked with “Rigorous/Very Rigorous Journal” to assure of its quality.

Consensus’ Synthesize features a summary from the top papers as well as a Consensus Meter for Yes/No questions.

An immediate drawback that I noticed is their credit system which limits your use of their features. Under their free plan, users start off with 20 credits that refresh each month, with one credit being deducted from the balance each time Synthesize or Copilot are used. This isn’t too big of an issue as the extracted analysis for each paper is already sufficient most of the time.

However, if you find yourself heavily-relying on these features, subscribing to their Premium plan is worth considering due to its general affordability compared to other platforms.

Consensus can also be accessed through ChatGPT, although some functionalities might be limited. Nevertheless, users can still expect to receive the same reliable, evidence-based answers to their research queries.

Ask away on Consensus through their website or on their own GPT.

3. Elicit

Best for organized research writing

Ask a question or upload your own PDF files for analysis with Elicit.

The Good
Organize papers into notebooks for streamlined analysis
Clean and sleek UI directs your eyes to focus on the answers
Key sections are condensed into columns for convenient viewing
The Bad
Asking questions, extracting data, chatting with paper, and getting concepts all require credits
Pricing
Free: 5000 credits per month
Plus: $12/month ($10/month for annual plan)

Elicit offers users enhanced organization through its Notebook system, changing the way you analyze and work with research papers. Instead of jumping between searches and summaries, Notebooks provide a central hub for your research. Here, you can gather papers from various sources, analyze them together, and even create custom summaries – all within a single workspace.

Having used Elicit before the implementation of Notebooks, I am honestly liking how I can keep all my research papers under one topic. I also found the user interface clean and not too cluttered, allowing me to focus on what’s in front of me. Plus, similar to Scispace, it lets me add tailored summaries for each paper, making it easy to compare key points.

Analyze multiple research papers simultaneously with Elicit’s Notebook feature.

What truly impressed me was the ability to analyze multiple papers at once, regardless of whether they were uploaded by me or found through search results. By clicking add step, I can create a table and add in columns for side-by-side comparisons of each study. This feature alone makes it an easy recommendation for all kinds of research work.

Start analyzing with Elicit through their website.

4. Scite.ai

Best for writing citation statements

Create cited statements by asking Scite.ai a question.

The Good
Provides context for how citations are used
Scite Assistant crafts fully-cited drafts from various studies
The Bad
Most features are locked behind paywall
User interface can sometimes be overloaded with text
Pricing
Premium: $15/month ($9/month for annual plan)

Scite uses AI to analyze how scientific papers discuss other research. It shows where each cited paper is mentioned (Introduction, Methods, etc.) and whether it supports, contradicts, or just mentions the claim. This goes beyond just counting citations, giving a richer picture of research quality. With over 1.2 billion citations in its database, Scite.ai helps researchers in many ways, from finding relevant articles to evaluating research for tenure or identifying the best studies.

Right after trying it out, I quickly encountered the main downside of Scite.ai, which is the restrictive nature of its free plan. After exhausting the 2 free searches provided, I was prompted to upgrade to their premium plan to continue exploring more. Even with that limitation, I find their citation statements to be of high quality and accurate to my search input. I also appreciate that it links back to the original paper for further reading.

Another thing that I noticed is how the UI can be cluttered with too much text. A cleaner design that grays out the less important details would definitely improve the user experience.

Despite its distinct features, the paywall significantly limits Scite.ai's usability for casual users. However, for researchers who need to regularly analyze scientific literature, its comprehensive citation analysis and vast database could be worth the subscription to a Premium plan.

Get citing with Scite.ai by visiting their website.

Conclusion

Each of these tools caters to different aspects of research, from literature reviews to citation analysis, providing users with diverse functionalities to meet their specific needs. 

The comprehensive insights and myriad of features Scispace has to offer is what made it stand out for me. I found that it provided me the most assistance with my research work, and having useful features such as the paraphrase and AI detection tool centralized into one platform made things a bit easier.

All of these tools still provided different enough features that sets them apart from the rest. Ultimately, there is no one-fits-all AI tool as it will still depend on your specific needs and budget. Consider first the functionalities of each platform and experiment with their free trials to find the perfect fit for your research journey.

It’s worthwhile to remember that while these AI tools empower researchers, it is the human mind that remains the driving force behind effective research. It's our critical thinking and ability to interpret information that allows us to leverage these tools for maximum impact.

Updated
May 8, 2024
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