How Does Elicit AI Work?


Elicit ai Works is an artificial intelligence (AI) research assistant that leverages the power of large language models to help automate and expedite parts of the literature review process for researchers. Developed by Anthropic, elicit ai Works aims to save researchers time by quickly surfacing relevant papers and extracting key information to summarize what the paper is about.

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In this article, we’ll provide an overview of how elicit ai Works, its key features and capabilities, limitations, and tips for getting the most out of this AI tool. Whether you’re a student working on a literature review or a researcher exploring the literature for a new project, read on to learn if Elicit could help optimize your workflow.

How Elicit AI Works

At its core, Elicit is powered by a large language model that has been fine-tuned on scientific and academic texts. This allows the model to “read” and comprehend research papers across a wide variety of domains. Elicit takes a user’s research question as input and outputs relevant papers it has found, along with brief summaries explaining what each paper is about.

There are a few key steps in Elicit’s workflow:

1. User creates an account and logs in

Like many software tools today, Elicit requires users to create an account first before they can start using the tool. Creating an account is free and allows Elicit to save your search history and generated results.

2. User enters a research question

Once logged in, users can enter a research question or keywords that describe their research interests. This is the prompt that tells Elicit what kind of information you are looking for.

3. Elicit searches its database for relevant papers

Behind the scenes, Elicit takes the research question and searches through its database of over 50 million academic papers and documents to find relevant matches. The search works by looking for semantic similarity between words and phrases in the research question and the materials in its corpus.

4. Elicit extracts key information from papers

For each paper it deems relevant, Elicit will read through and extract key pieces of information – things like the main contributions, methods used, results, and conclusions. This allows it to generate a summary explaining what each paper is about.

5. Elicit presents results to user

The end result that users see is a table listing each relevant paper found along with the summary generated. This allows users to quickly skim and understand the main ideas of each paper before choosing to read further. Additional capabilities like extracting full sentences and questions generation provide other ways to interact with the literature.

Key Features and Capabilities

Elicit has several key features and capabilities that aim to augment the literature review process:

  • Relevant paper identification – The main function of Elicit is to surface papers that are relevant to the user’s input query. This automated matching saves time compared to traditional manual searches.
  • Paper summaries – The summaries provide a quick overview of each paper’s key points so users can determine which are most relevant without having to read every paper deeply.
  • Full sentence extraction – Elicit can also highlight and extract full salient sentences from papers to showcase key details.
  • Question generation – Users can ask Elicit to generate alternate research questions related to their initial input, which can help broaden the literature search.
  • PDF upload – In addition to searching its own corpus, users can also upload their own PDFs for Elicit to read and summarize.
  • Shareable results – Tables of results can be shared with collaborators to more easily discuss literature findings as a team.

Limitations and Challenges

While Elicit demonstrates a lot of promise in automating parts of the literature review workflow, it also has some key limitations users should keep in mind:

  • As an AI system, Elicit is not flawless. It can sometimes miss critical papers, identify irrelevant ones, or generate inaccurate summaries. Results should not be considered comprehensive.
  • Long, complex papers with unusual formatting or heavy use of equations/symbols pose challenges for the underlying language model to comprehend and summarize accurately.
  • Elicit works best when queries are focused on a specific research question vs. broader topic areas. More targeted questions lead to more relevant results.
  • The tool is currently limited to English language papers only, restricting its utility for non-English literature.
  • As a newer system, Elicit’s capabilities are still evolving. Users may encounter bugs or suboptimal performance at times.

Tips for Using Elicit Effectively

To get the most out of Elicit, here are some tips for users:

  • Frame research questions carefully – Well-formed questions lead to better results. Avoid overly broad queries.
  • Review relevance of results – Don’t assume all surfaced papers are applicable. Verify alignment.
  • Spot check summaries – Read a sample of papers to validate accuracy of summaries.
  • Try different queries – Rephrase questions multiple ways to get diverse results.
  • Upload key papers – Prime results by having Elicit read seminal papers on the topic first.
  • Take advantage of new features as they are added.
  • Provide feedback to the developers on your experience to improve the tool.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about Elicit:

How accurate are the summaries Elicit generates?

The accuracy of the summaries can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the paper. For simpler papers, the summaries are generally accurate at capturing key points. But for longer, highly technical papers, the accuracy rate decreases. Users should not fully trust the summaries and should verify against the original papers.

Can I download papers through Elicit?

Currently, Elicit only surfaces citation information and summaries of papers. It does not provide access to full-text downloads of papers in its corpus. Users need to obtain copies of papers through other databases or sources.

Does Elicit work for papers in non-English languages?

No, Elicit currently only works for English language papers. Support for other languages is limited. This can restrict its usefulness for literature in languages besides English.

Can I use Elicit for topics outside of science/academia?

While optimized for academic/scientific papers, technically you can use Elicit for some non-academic topics. However, performance will likely degrade for topics too far outside its training domain.

What happens to the research questions and data I provide to Elicit?

According to Anthropic’s privacy policy, users maintain ownership over any data they provide. User data can be used to improve Elicit’s algorithms but is not shared or sold. Accounts and data can be deleted upon request.

Is there a limit on the number of searches I can run per month?

Elicit currently does not impose any strict limits on usage or number of searches. However, they reserve the right to rate limit users who excessively overuse the tool in the future.

Table Summary

Here is a summary table of the key points covered in this article:

What is Elicit?AI research assistant that aims to help automate parts of the literature review process.
How it worksLeverages large language models trained on academic text to match keywords and summarize papers.
Key capabilitiesIdentifies relevant papers, summarizes, extracts sentences, generates questions.
LimitationsImperfect AI, struggles with long complex papers, limited to English.
Using it effectivelyFrame focused questions, validate relevance/accuracy, try different queries.


In conclusion, Elicit is a promising new AI tool that can help expedite parts of the literature review workflow for researchers through its automated matching and summarization capabilities. While it has limitations users should be aware of, it can serve as a beneficial starting point in surveying existing research on a given topic. With a thoughtful, critical approach to utilizing and validating results, elicit ai Works has the potential to enhance researchers’ productivity and efficiency in conducting comprehensive literature reviews.In summary, Elicit leverages the power of natural language processing and semantic search to help researchers quickly find relevant papers and glean key insights from the literature. While not intended to fully replace traditional literature reviews, with its automated matching and summarization capabilities, it can help turbocharge parts of the research workflow. As with any AI system, users should approach results with a degree of healthy skepticism and not fully rely on the technology as completely comprehensive or accurate. But used judiciously, Elicit can provide an advantageous starting point in reviewing existing literature on a given research topic.

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