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Share this post find and access research papers at lightning speed Cenk Özbakır, co-founder. The logo appears underneath this text, and a graphic of Cenk sitting at a table with a laptop is at the right.

Preface: The first step in any research project is to read up on what others have done, and with finding and accessing research papers is becoming easier than ever. We asked Cenk from how they are working with the research community to make searching scientific literature better, and learned they are creating a world where knowledge is quickly accessible and open to everyone—and a future with shareable “Paper Playlists”! This interview is part of our ongoing series on innovative companies that are developing tools and support for your research.

Can you tell us about yourself and what led you to create

My name is Cenk, and I am one of the people building I started my career working for various startups in Stockholm (including a coffee-bike-startup that was, for a brief beautiful moment, the world’s fastest growing café chain). 

A couple years ago I moved from Stockholm to London and my co-founder and I launched our own app, a reference manager called Citationsy. (More about the creation of Citationsy here

We saw that our users loved the paper-finding functionality inside Citationsy and were using it for discovering the papers they wanted to download and read. So we spun that out into its own standalone app, and created – our website for finding and downloading research papers. 

Aside from finding research papers at a truly impressive speed, how is improving access to science?

We do take pride in our cutting-edge technology and insane performance! 

But not only that – our coverage is amongst the best out there, and we have more links to Open Access Full Text PDFs than anyone. 

We want to be the easiest and fastest way to find and download papers.

By doing so we believe we can increase overall readership and promote researchers’ work. 

In the long term, our aim is to build an ecosystem that serves the research community. To do so, we partner with great tools such as Litmaps and Scite – connecting researchers and their needs.

I noticed your trello board where users can submit suggestions, and you’ve mentioned that grew from the needs of the Citationsy community. Why is it important for you to create an interactive relationship with the scientific community?

We’ve always worked hand-in-hand with the community. We’re trying to build something researchers want to use, and the best way to do that is to ask them. Most of the features we add are something our users requested, so we do our best to encourage feedback and suggestions. Another advantage of our Public Roadmap is that our users can follow along as we develop and can see what we are working on.

Do you have any tips for researchers and students landing on for the first time on how to approach searching?

Are you looking for a specific paper or do you want to explore and discover research in a given topic or field?

If you are looking for a specific journal article, simply type in the title, the DOI, or search for any of the authors. will let you know if there is a PDF available for download. If not, we will show you where the best place to find it is (usually the publisher’s site or your university library). 

If you want to explore a topic more broadly, simply type in a keyword or group of keywords, and will help you find the most relevant papers. You can then filter these results by your criteria: publication date, number of citations, journal, country, and open access status.

Once you find a paper, we show you the works that it references, as well as the papers that cite it. 

Our machine learning algorithm also calculates related articles based on topic and authors.

When I search my own field, the articles are organized a bit differently than in other search engines. How does decide what the most relevant papers are; are they organized by impact factor and journal ranking or some other metric?

Our search results are based on text similarity in the search terms, weighted by number of citations. So searching for a phrase will rank papers that have the most words from that phrase closest together highest, and then sort them by citation count in each sub group. 

We don’t take impact factor of the journal into account yet, this is something we hope to implement in the future.

Are there any new features or integrations you are especially excited to bring us?

We have been recently working on a slight visual refresh, which has just launched.

In addition to this, we worked in Microsoft to bring into Microsoft Word, which just launched last month

We are also going to be launching our integration with GetFTR in March, which will help more of our users access papers through their library or institution faster.

Do you have any plans for user curation, or can you tell me a little bit about what claiming a profile or creating an account does?

People have always curated music – from mixtapes on cassette to playlists in iTunes. But until Spotify came along, sharing digital playlists was a hassle and hardly anyone did it. But now, most people listen to music based on playlists. 

This is why the next big feature for is going to be “Paper Playlists” – a fast and easy way for anyone to organise papers centered around a topic, project, or class, and then (this is the important part) share that playlist with others. 

There are ways of doing this now, but they are clunky and annoying to use and we think our approach will open this up for many more people. 

As we were working on improving our author pages, the #1 thing we heard from authors was that they wanted control over their own page. They want to add their bio, link to their websites or university pages, and correct any mistakes we may have made in our data. This is why we’re working on the functionality for authors to claim their profiles and make these changes themselves. 

Our relationship with authors is key. We don’t want to benefit from their work, rather we want to help them promote it and reach the people who are interested in it.

In addition to finding research articles, is also a hub to access a rich overview of each paper–with integration to Scite, Litmaps, and instant pdfs in beta. Can you tell us a bit about your vision for the future of

We definitely want to improve our PDF reader. This was something our users asked for, but balancing big features like these with our performance requirements has been hard. 

We’d also like to index more content – we need a better integration for pre-prints, and we want to add things like OA books to our database. 

There are also a couple very exciting things we are working on that I can’t share yet, but that will make a big splash in the coming months. 

Big picture, we are on a mission to make research more discoverable, open, and connected, so that anyone can gain and reproduce knowledge. We believe that everyone should have access to papers.

The future is Open Access, and is the tool for that future.


We would like to thank Cenk for sharing his insight!

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