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Writing a paper with scite

In this guide, we will teach you how to use scite to write a term paper including:
Search Literature with scite Advanced Search, Citation Statement Search & the Assistant tool
Evaluate research papers with scite Reports
Write a paper and find citations and references using the tools introduced above

Searching Literature with scite

A professor assigns a term paper. What’s your first step?

For most students, the answer is a literature search - looking up scholarly papers on the topic. In this brief guide, we’ll walk you through how scite can help you not only find articles, but how to use it to help you write your paper quickly and efficiently.

Let’s say you are writing a paper on Ego Depletion - the idea that human willpower is a limited resource that can be depleted.

First, you will want to use the scite search features to find relevant articles. There are two primary ways you can search with scite:
searching for papers by their titles, abstracts and other metadata (scite Advanced Search)
searching for papers by searching inside of papers directly (scite Citation Statement Search)
asking simple questions and synthesizing information from research articles to support your research tasks (scite Assistant Tool)

With scite, you can discover papers by whether they have been supported or contrasted by other authors. You will want to ensure that the papers you select are high quality.

For Ego Depletion, we can make a search and sort the results by the number of supporting citations so that we can see the articles which have received the most supportive attention from other authors.

![Example of a search for Ego Depletion papers]

Advanced Search is particularly powerful compared to alternatives like Google Scholar because of the various ways you can narrow the results that are specific to scite, such as the types of citations received, presence (or absence) of editorial notices like retractions, and much more.

You can also use Search Builder, which supports advanced search terms and functions, seen here:

To read more about advanced search click here.

Searching For Papers by Searching Inside them

Searching for papers by just title and abstract can be really limiting. Instead, you might want to just search inside papers for certain topics and see how authors are talking about certain things. At scite we call this Citation Statement search.

For Ego Depletion, we might be interested in task duration and self-control so we can search directly for how those topics are being spoken of in the literature.

Example of a search for task duration and self control in citation statements

What is really interesting about searching like this is you can quickly find citations while you are writing!

To read more about citation statement search click here.

Asking Questions in Assistant (scite Assistant)

If you're still having trouble getting started, you can use our Assistant tool. In Assistant, you can ask simple questions and get reliable answers from the full-texts of millions of research articles. You may get started with your ego depletion paper by entering a prompt like this:

Evaluating and Understanding Research with scite

A professor assigns a term paper. What’s your second step?

Now that you have found some relevant papers on your topic, your second step should be to critically evaluate and understand those papers by seeing what other researchers have said about them. By critically evaluating and understanding research you will be collecting citations and ideas for your term paper that you will use when you are writing.

You can evaluate and understand papers by looking at their scite Reports.

By clicking papers in scite you will see their reports. The report page quickly shows you how other scientists have cited this important article, which allows you to evaluate and understand a paper by seeing how the paper has been supported or disputed by others.

By reading what others have said, you can start collecting critical arguments and supporting evidence from others that you can use in your research and writing such as formulating a thesis or collecting citations and arguments for a critical analysis. You can also find gaps in the literature or thesis ideas this way.

Example: Evaluating the Ego Depletion Paper

By selecting the top result in the paper search above, we can see scite Report for one of the most important articles in the field.

Example of citation types

It appears that the findings of this paper were supported by others around 129 times, contrasted (i.e., the findings did not replicate or the results were otherwise different) 12 times, and simply mentioned over 2,000 times.

At first glance, 12 contrasting citations don’t seem like much. However, this type of citation is actually quite rare, so 12 is nothing to sneeze at! This indicates that there is probably some controversy about this topic, or at least that there’s a mix of findings on whether or not ego depletion is a valid concept. By selecting only “Contrasting”, you can limit the report to only those papers which reported findings that deviated from the one we are looking at.

Example of a contrasting citation

Right away, it’s clear that there are important factors influencing when and how ego depletion takes place (in this example, motivation).

Example of a contrasting citation where Wolf fails to replicate the findings of Baumeister

Scrolling down, we see another important set of citations: Wolf et al (2019) failed to replicate the central findings of Baumeister et al. (1998), so there is at least some controversy on the topic.

On the other hand, there is also a lot of evidence supporting this theory. By selecting only the “Supporting” citation type, we can see citations that generally reflect successful replications or evidence otherwise consistent with the theory.

Example of supporting evidence

We’ve only reviewed a few select citations, but already, a few things are obvious about this topic: (1) it’s heavily studied (cited over 2,700 times!), (2) the central hypothesis has been subsequently replicated many times, but (3) a number of other studies have either failed to replicate the central finding, or find that it only “works” in some situations. If you’re trying to figure out exactly what you should focus your paper on, you could focus on moderators of ego depletion, or the circumstances under which it does not occur.

Example: Evaluating the topic of “Professor Priming”

Let’s try another topic: so-called “professor priming”. This is the idea that people will perform better responding to trivia questions if they are first primed to think of an intelligent person (a professor). For this scenario, let’s say your professor has given you a starting place by already talking about one prominent paper in class. You can find the scite report for this paper by simply searching for the title.

Using advanced search to find an assigned paper

On the scite Report for this paper, we easily see this is an important paper with both supporting and contrasting citations.

Citation types indicating the findings of Dijksterhuis and van Knippenberg have been supported elsewhere

The supporting citations indicate that the original findings of Dijksterhuis and van Knippenberg have indeed been supported elsewhere.

Example of a supporting citation

However, there are also two contrasting citations. One shows that men and women are affected by priming differently. The other, shown below, describes something called a “p-curve” analysis.

Example of a contrasting citation

You may not know what a p-curve analysis is, so this might be a case where you want to actually read the citing paper. Clicking on the “View full text” link takes you to the full paper.

Putting it all together: Writing with scite

A professor assigns a term paper. What’s your third step?

Now that you know how to look up scholarly papers on any topic and evaluate those papers by seeing what others have said about them you can easily put together your paper.

Assemble your paper by incorporating the critical discussion and claims you have read in the scite reports and use the scite Citation Search to find citations for your arguments.

Some more helpful hints for writing with scite are:

Thesis and Introduction

Find great ideas for a thesis and an introduction by looking at gaps authors have identified in the citation statements.

Literature Review or Background

For a literature review or background section, perform a Citation Statement Search on a topic and look at all the papers that talk about it. If you are looking for something critical or supportive to say on a certain topic look at the supporting and contrasting citations for that paper.

Methods and Experiments

Want to see how a method or dataset you are employing is used by others? Search for it in Citation Statement Search.

Results and Conclusions

Do you know if others have had similar results or arguments? Search for your specific results or arguments in Citation Statement Search.


Looking to critically engage with and present gaps or limitations of your arguments, look at papers that have made similar claims in scite reports and see how authors have critically engaged with their work.


Don’t know what you should write? Make a claim or an argument and see how others have made a similar claim or disputed that claim in the literature by searching for in Citation Statement Search.

Note: You should never uncritically cite a source, be sure you read the papers you are citing and what other authors have said about the paper before you cite the paper. Even if you see that another author cites a paper to justify their argument, be sure to check that their citation is justified by the original source.

Now that you have read this guide you should be able to:
Search Literature with scite Advanced Search and Citation Statement Search
Evaluate research papers with scite Reports
Write a paper and find citations and references using the tools introduced above

For a more in-depth guide on putting together a literature review or critical analysis paper see this guide or how you might check the quality of your first draft see this guide

To see everything we offer students and to access a student discount see scite for students

Updated on: 10/03/2023

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