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Free Digital Research Tools

This guide provides a list with descriptions of different research tools to facilitate research. Tools that use artificial intelligence (AI) are noted.

AI Tools to Answer Your Questions

These tools use artificial intelligence (AI) to try to provide answers to your research questions.

Unlike ChatGPT, these tools provide (real) citations to support the answers.

Similar to ChatGPT, these platforms log your searches to train their language models, so do not enter in any personal or proprietary information.



Elicit uses language models to search Semantic Scholar for scholarly papers that are semantically similar to your research question, so you don't have to include synonyms for your search terms.

Elicit provides an AI-generated short summary of each paper's abstract, as well as a summary of the top 4 research papers it returns in response to your question.

What's it useful for?

  • Quickly finding summaries of research
  • Filtering studies based on:
    • Number of citations for each paper
    • Type of intervention
    • Outcomes measured
    • Number of participants

What's it cost?

Elicit is a freemium model where users start out with a limited number of credits for free. Queries cost varying amounts of credits.

Learn more about how Elicit works.

Elicit search results for the question "Do vitamin D supplements increase energy?" Shows a paper titled "Vitamin D Supplementation Does Not Impact Resting Metabolic Rate, Body Composition and Strength in Vitamin D Sufficient Physically Active Adults" along with a summary of the abstract



Enter a question into the search, and Consensus will return claims from scholarly articles from the Semantic Scholar database that answer your question.

What's it useful for?

  • Quickly finding summaries of research 
  • Finding highly cited papers or specific types of papers (ex: randomized controlled trial, systematic review)

What's it cost?

Free to create an account to run searches and find answers. Paid premium account enables AI-generated summaries and syntheses.

How Consensus Search Works & Other FAQ's

Consensus homepage displaying search box and example searches, including "does creatine help build muscle?", "what are the benefits of mindfulness?", "do direct cash transfers reduce poverty?"


Perplexity provides AI-generated answers to questions, based on the same type of technology used for ChatGPT, but including citations for the answers.

These citations are not necessarily to peer-reviewed scholarly articles, so the user will need to evaluate results for credibility in the same way they would for regular search engine results.

What's it useful for?

  • Finding quick answers to questions with sources provided

What's it cost?

Free to run searches and create an account. Paid premium account enables AI-assisted searching and additional support.'s search interface with option for copilot

Perplexity search results for "red flags every job seeker should know" showing a brief introduction and numbered points including citations



Upload a text-based (non image) pdf to ChatPDF, and then ask questions, and it will give you text-based answers. It can generate a summary, answer specific questions about the findings or methods, or simplify dense parts of the paper.

What's it useful for?

  • Generating summaries of journal articles
  • Finding specific information from an article
  • Clarifying sections of a paper

What's it cost?

Free to use and no account required for a limited number of pages and questions. Paid premium account increases the number of pages and questions allowed.

Disclaimer for Students

Per Queens' Academic Affairs Department:

"The use of AI Tools is prohibited for coursework unless explicitly communicated by the course instructor. If the instructor has given explicit direction that AI Tools may be used (such as but not limited to ChatGPT, QuillBot, DALL-E, or Bard), you must acknowledge the material produced with a citation for any assignment for which it was used. Their use should be limited so that they do not interfere with the student learning objectives for the assignment and the course."

Check with your professor before using these or any other generative AI tools for your assignments.