Save time looking for full texts of scientific papers + more.

Because it is 2014 and this is not too hard.

Install Lazy Scholar for Chrome
  • Browser button for fast checking Google Scholar for the full text from any abstract, pubmed or non.

    Browser button for fast checking Google Scholar for the full text from any abstract, pubmed or non.

  • Automatic popup when loading an abstract reduces the number of clicks to check Google Scholar for a full text to zero!

    Automatic popup when loading an abstract reduces the number of clicks to check Google Scholar for a full text to zero!



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In text citation identification and updates

As Lazy Scholar nears 3,000 users and crosses 50,000 queries, I have a new feature and some updates that I just pushed out.

Feature: In text citation identification

Even though full texts usually have anchor tags linked to references at the bottom, I often find it annoying when I want to quickly know what paper is being referenced. For example, what paper is reference #9 below? I can click it and go to the bottom and click back to go back to where I was, but I discovered that it is pretty easy to bring this information to us quicker for most papers.*


My solution, built into Lazy Scholar version, is that when you hover over one of these links, it simply scrapes the reference from the bottom into view:


This box fades completely after about 10 seconds, and you can turn it off completely in Options. Future versions may incorporate a quick full text lookup here – please post in the comments if you think this would benefit your workflow.

*I tested a lot of journals, but there are some that are bound not to work. Please report those that don’t here and I will make fixes as necessary.



Here are some other updates in this version:

  • Removed posting links within lay press articles
  • Removed PDF exchange system that was in beta testing – may be reworked into something else in the future
  • Improved Altmetric speed and put them next to other metrics, turned on by default (turn off in Options)
  • Implemented a screen of urls to reduce cost. This will result in a small sacrifice in quality of the auto-scanning feature because new journals won’t be incorporated in the database immediately for all users, but costs were too high to maintain. This means if you use the auto-scan, Lazy Scholar may not recognize obscure journals until I manually update it in the future.
  • Removed some redundancy and logging to improve speed

I will be working on redesigning Lazy Scholar to be more intuitive and focusing on bugs in the upcoming months, and would appreciate any suggestions/comments.


Search Google Scholar or PubMed from Chrome Address Bar (Omnibox); PowerPoint citation

I added a new feature in Lazy Scholar super fast Google Scholar and PubMed searching from the Chrome address bar (aka omnibox). Simply type “LS” followed by a space and then your query to search Google Scholar and have it open the results in a new tab. To search PubMed, type “ls” followed by a space, then “pm” followed by a space, then your query. The URL of the tab that you are searching from is preserved. I recorded it in action in the video below.



Last week I also added a short PowerPoint citation format that is saved to the clipboard if you click on the “PWP” text in the button: Author et al. (year) journal issue:page. Saves some time when formatting slides for presentations.

PubPeer comments

Along with PubMed Commons comments, Lazy Scholar now also checks for PubPeer comments in version 0.8.1. PubPeer provides another option for critical discussion of papers.

Here is an example of a paper that has comments:





Clicking the link will bring you to the PubPeer page to read them. Similar to PubMed comments, if none exist, no text will show.

Thanks to PubPeer for API access. They also have a much lighter weight Chrome Extension that checks for comments as you are surfing PubMed pages, if that suits you better.

PDF exchange: need beta testers

I have reached an exciting point on something I have been working on for a long time now: a PDF exchange system that occurs fully in Chrome. After much testing it is built into Lazy Scholar in version 0.8.0 that I just pushed out, but by default you cannot see it unless I give you access. I am looking for 5-10 people to help test and find inevitable bugs. Go to the bottom to read how to volunteer.

Here is what I have come up with so far.

Let’s say you are surfing pubmed and come across this paper that you want to read. You press the Lazy Scholar button and find that there is no free full text out there. You can see a “Request PDF” button to send a request to everyone else who uses the extension. Clicking this automatically grabs the paper information and submits it- one click is all it takes. You can also view how many current open PDF requests there are here.




Clicking on the link that says “Go to XChange” opens a bare-bones page that displays all open requests by you and others, as well as files available to download that others sent. You can delete your own requests here. This page is updated live as others make requests or send files.




Now let’s say someone else had access to the paper you requested. They chose the file and clicked Send. Now you will see that the icon lights up with a PDF notification:


Clicking the icon opens the XChange page and shows that you have a file available:



Clicking the red text downloads the file (which is automatically renamed in the format: “LS_first author_year_journal.pdf”) and purges the file and record from the server.


To volunteer to test (please be willing to report issues to the bug tracker):

  1. Copy and paste this into Chrome’s address bar: chrome-extension://fpbdcofpbclblalghaepibbagkkgpkak/userid.html
  2. You will see an id number that is your randomly assigned userid. Copy this
  3. Paste the id in the comments below or send me an email to colby.vorland at gmail
  4. When I reply that you are approved, restart Chrome or wait 24 hours.
  5. Copy and paste this into Chrome’s address bar: chrome-extension://fpbdcofpbclblalghaepibbagkkgpkak/options.html
  6. You will now see a button at the bottom of the page that says “Click to allow access to XChange database”. Click this and approve the new permission.
  7. Restart Chrome once more and you will now see the link after clicking the browser icon.


Known issues/to do:

  • When clicking on files to download them, they are sometimes downloaded multiple times. 
  • You cannot currently submit a request if Lazy Scholar cannot find the information about the paper you are requesting. This means that brand new papers cannot currently be requested. I will implement some sort of manual request soon.
  • It is a bit resource intensive (on my end- it initiates an HTTP GET request to the server every minute that you are not idle). I am told this can be fixed in the underlying software in the future.
  • Drag/drop needs to be implemented to upload a file.
  • Requests should delete if open longer than a certain period of time (like a week).
  • I want to build a web version of this too so it is not necessary to have the Chrome extension to use it. I don’t anticipate this to be difficult.
  • It is ugly- I will making prettier in the future assuming it works effectively with multiple users.

Checking PubMed Commons

Yesterday, PubMed’s new comments system, PubMed Commons, went public. If you are staring at a paper from a journal’s website, it would be tedious to open PubMed just to check if there are comments on it there. Lazy Scholar now does it automatically, in version 0.7.5.

Here is what it looks like; the comment count is hyperlinked to the abstract.





As always, you have the option of turning this off in Options.

Find a paper contact email & cite counts

I am on a bit of a coding spree lately, and added 2 new features to Lazy Scholar that appear in version 0.7.0, just pushed out: finding a contact email for a paper, and citation counts.

By default, finding a contact email address is turned off (turn on in Options) as it adds an extra ping (to pubmed). Turn this on and it will scrape the contact address listed on pubmed (only available for some entries) after you click the browser icon. This will soon be extended to the automatic-popups.

Second, the Google Scholar and Thomson Reuters Web of Science citation counts are now given (WoS counts also scraped from Google Scholar). However, it seems that Web of Science counts are only available if you are on an internet network of a participating institution- this is being rolled out to more institutions through January. So if Lazy Scholar can find the count it will display it, otherwise you will see “N/A”.


Example: while on the JAMA abstract, I click the button and it finds a contact email and provides citation metrics.



Fast citation copying & sending to reference managers

Lazy Scholar gets an update today to version 0.6 with 2 new features: citation copying and saving to reference managers. Now when you click the browser button, text links will be appended to the bottom of the popup.

By default, APA formatting appears, but you can turn this off or add MLA or Chicago in Options. Clicking on any of these copies the citation to your clipboard. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem possible to maintain italicized formatting (ie journal name) this way. So, I’ve included a link (the hyperlinked “Cite”) directly to Google Scholar’s citation page to copy/paste that way, which will maintain italics.

Also by default, a text link to Google Scholar Library appears (this replaces the button added in the previous version). This can also be turned off in Options, and EndNote, RefWorks, RefMan, or BibTex links can be added. When clicking these, the citation will be downloaded or open a new window depending on which you select. Mendeley will be added at a later time, and I am open to other requests.




Note: copying citations requires a new permission to copy to your clipboard, so you will need to allow this before the new version is updated.

Fast Saving to Google Scholar Library

Google Scholar put out an update this week with a new feature: Library. It allows you to save references in a folder on the Google Scholar page and organize by tags. This is useful, but requires you to be on Google Scholar to save them – until now.

For example, here I am browsing a paper on JAMA. Clicking the Lazy Scholar browser icon provides a button to send it straight to the Scholar library.


Of course, this requires you to be logged into Google in Chrome (it warns if you aren’t). It will also alert if you already have the reference saved.

By default this feature is turned on, but you can remove the button completely in the Options.

Renaming PDF filenames

I’ve released an update to Lazy Scholar today (version 0.4.0) that adds a new feature: renaming PDF filenames.

Usually when you download a PDF from a journal it looks something like “ioi80118_2268_2275.pdf”. This is not helpful when you are trying to find it later in your download folder. Lazy Scholar now attempts to rename the file as you download it to “year_first author_journal.pdf” as a default. You can customize this naming order by right clicking the icon and clicking “Options”. If Lazy Scholar cannot find the paper or there is some error it provides a prompt to enter a custom name or you can leave it empty to use the journal’s default filename.

By default, this feature is turned on and requires new permissions: “downloads” is needed to change the filename, and “” is needed to fetch paper data from NCBI Entrez. You can turn it off completely in Options.

This was a bit difficult to accomplish and I needed to use several inefficient methods to make it work, so there are likely bugs that I missed in testing. Please post links in the comments if there is something unexpected, or comment if you would like additional order customization options.

Thanks to Michael Eisen for this feature idea.

Data for Google Scholar paper availability for #oaweek

For Open Access week I wanted to share some preliminary data that I have gathered over the last couple months from Lazy Scholar use. While this is not strictly “open access” related per se, it says a little about the availability of research.

For those who may not know or do not use it: Lazy Scholar is a Chrome extension that I built out of frustration of checking every scientific abstract that I want to read in Google Scholar to see if a free full text is available. Based on a single click – or an automated optional popup – you can check if one exists. If you link Google Scholar to an institution, it will grab that link for you too. Finally, you can enter an EZproxy link in the extension options and quickly get links to check institutional access this way as well. You can also link to your Twitter account and send out a request to the #icanhazpdf hashtag with one click. It also can provide paper altmetrics (from, and I have many more plans of how to automate finding useful information about a paper that I hope to implement soon.

Each Lazy Scholar query is (anonymously) added to a database, yielding a growing database of interesting information that I mined a bit.

Total Queries (as of 10.21.2013): 13,430 (8,270 after removing duplicate queries)

Lazy Scholar consists of either clicking a button to query, or using an optional setting to automatically make queries on each page-load if it recognizes a scientific website. Here are data on the proportion of queries that result in a full text found through Google Scholar. The data from the button is more likely to be biased because the button may not be clicked if the person is already on an open access paper. But it turns out they are pretty close anyway.

Button proportion of full texts found = 16%
Button proportion of full texts found, removing duplicate queries from users = 17%

Auto-scan proportion of full texts found = 21%
Auto-scan proportion of full texts found, removing duplicate queries from users = 18%*
*This is likely the most accurate measure.

Here is another interesting one that I have been tracking: what the publication years are for the articles people are looking for. The vast majority are not listed in Google Scholar, but for those that are there is an expected trend that people are looking for newer papers, except for in 1991 which is abnormally high. This may be because I didn’t remove duplicate queries for this yet. This is for the top 10 years:


So the lesson is: always check Google Scholar to see if it indexed a full text. About 1/5 of papers that people are looking for can be found there, assuming no dramatic discipline biases in who is currently using the extension.