science articles code

Search PLOS articles using DuckDuckGo

Last year, I decided to experiment with DuckDuckHack, the developer platform for the search engine DuckDuckGo. The idea was to use the instant answers to find scientific articles as a quick Google Scholar shortcut.

It’s feasible, in principle, but I decided to try something simpler. A plugin that uses the PLOS API to search their articles and display in the instant answer box.

To use it, you just need to add the word “plos” + keywords (example above). The result is a list of titles and dates of the five most-relevant articles with direct links. Hovering the mouse over a link will show the authors and which PLOS journal. This final format was simplified after the initial pull request and polished up in the second.


The code is a simple Perl function that connects the PLOS API to DuckDuckGo, and a javascript function that handles the search response. The DDG community was quite friendly to help out with the code.

Since DuckDuckGo is less used than Google, I guess the number of users might be low. Maybe I’m the only one… It would be outstanding if it could query the whole scientific literature! But, well, I like this little hack. I guess it’s the excitement of connecting services using APIs.

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