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Enhancing Information Literacy: Keenious’ Edge in Academic Exploration

As LILAC 2024 approaches, we are giving our event sponsors the opportunity to write a guest post and contribute to the current conversations in information literacy. Our full list of LILAC sponsors can be seen at this link.

First up are Aislinn Marmion and Jakob Aure from Keenious, who have written about how Keenious can help with academic exploration in a multitude of contexts.

What is Keenious?

Keenious is a new type of academic search engine that recommends relevant research papers by analyzing your document with powerful artificial intelligence algorithms. You can easily add Keenious as a sidebar in Microsoft Word or Google Docs so that you can get suggested relevant research without breaking your workflow. You can see their website at

Developed to be a responsible AI tool

In an educational landscape increasingly impacted by artificial intelligence (AI), Keenious is unique in having been developed in collaboration with librarians with the needs of students in mind. Unlike other AI tools that excel in generating text, Keenious focuses on identifying and recommending relevant academic publications. This is a sharp focus. Acting as a link between a student’s research goals and the vast ocean of scholarly articles, Keenious supports learning and discovery.

Enhancing information literacy

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) highlights “Research as Inquiry” and “Searching as Strategic Exploration” as two central frames in their Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education [1]. Keenious contributes to both frames by recommending relevant research across fields, even hard-to-find papers or those with hidden conceptual relevance. This approach supports the iterative, non-linear nature of research by broadening the scope of sources considered, encouraging students to evaluate and integrate diverse perspectives into their understanding and work.

Students struggle searching

Many students find it painstakingly difficult to craft search queries, making strategic exploration seem impossible. When using query-based search and AI tools, results may end up being inadequate for students since it’s particularly hard to look for knowledge that the user is completely unaware of. Keenious analyses the context and content of their work to recommend relevant literature to strategically explore. This aligns with the ACRL Framework’s emphasis on developing effective research strategies. Here searching is not a linear process but a broad, explorative journey. By encouraging users to stray from the beaten path, students enhance their reading, writing, and citation skills, supporting a deeper, more informed exploration of their subject area. Keenious also introduces students to resources they might have overlooked.

Broadening research horizons

Keenious is an additional tool in the library tool kit, not meant to replace other search or AI tools. Differing from other AI tools, Keenious supports targeted exploration of academic literature. Consider a user writing about renewable energy technologies in Google Docs or Microsoft Word; Keenious can analyse the document’s text and suggest relevant research papers on emerging technologies, climate, socio-economic impacts, and more. This capability ensures that students and researchers are not just relying on popular non-academic sources online, which is often the case, but are also exposed to peer-reviewed articles and seminal works in a range of academic fields.

Discovering research smarter

In an age of information overload, Keenious helps users navigate the vast amounts of digital content to uncover relevant, hidden gems. A study conducted together with librarians at Uppsala University in Sweden found that Keenious recommended relevant research papers that weren’t easily found in a large, traditional search tool [2]. As the volume of published research grows, this becomes increasingly important. Keenious not only suggests topics and articles but also aims to open up the black box of the underlying tech, by transparently providing insights into the results and their potential relevance [3], teaching users the importance of evaluating sources critically.

The importance of using AI tools intentionally

While other AI tools might assist in answering questions and generating text, Keenious ensures the foundational research a student engages with is both relevant and of high quality. Significantly, Keenious does not do any writing for the student. This means there’s a potential synergy between Keenious and other AI tools. Using these AI tools intentionally may enhance research and the educational ecosystem, providing a comprehensive kit of tools that support various stages of academic work.

Aiming to improve education and research
In essence, Keenious stands out for its targeted support in discovering academic literature, seamlessly fitting into and enriching conventional tools and databases as well as AI tools for higher education. Its integration with ACRL’s framework principles further demonstrates its value to information literacy specialists, researchers, and students, making it an indispensable tool in the pursuit of knowledge and academic excellence. This specialisation in enhancing research discovery and its complementary function alongside broader search and AI tools underlines its unique position in the educational technology landscape.

[1] Association of College and Research Libraries – ACRL (2016, January). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Available at:

[2] Barkelind, M., Hartman, A., Jansson, C., Kotka, A., Aure, J. B., & Johansen, J. S. (2023, March). Examining the Potential Role of Text-Based Recommendations in Academic Information Seeking: A Case Study [Poster presentation]. Poster presentation at the Research Libraries UK (RLUK) 2023 Virtual Conference, March 22-24, 2023. Available at:

[3] Keenious (2024, February). Results Insights. Available at:

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