Interactive Map Viewer

About interactive maps

The interactive maps application enriches an article with research data that is visualized on an interactive map

These maps, which appear on ScienceDirect, are based on KML (Keyhole Markup Language) files with geographic annotation created by the authors. This annotation could be a simple landmark pointer with a textual note, but also a visual overlay with actual research data.

Tip: to see how your Google Maps KML/KMZ files will appear on ScienceDirect, please use our online validation tool

Initially announced in May 2011, the interactive maps functionality is now available for over 80 journals in earth sciences, life sciences, and social sciences, on ScienceDirect. 

Google maps application

Interactive maps application on ScienceDirect

Benefits for authors and readers

The interactive maps functionality enables authors to enrich and extend their article by adding interactive maps.

This provides a way to highlight their findings in a visual and easily accessible manner, helping readers to quickly understand the relevance of a research paper and to visualize research data for deeper insights.

Innovating & enriching content

For almost 350 years, academic articles have been published in a similar layout – a format which starts with an abstract and ends with a conclusion and a list of references. Articles were presented in this way with the reader of the printed version in mind. However most researchers now access articles online, which means that readership styles and how information is gathered have changed.


We are adapting to these changes because we want to help authors improve how their research is presented online and readers to gain deeper insights faster. Offering interactive maps functionality in our journals is just one of the ways we are doing this.


The interactive maps functionality enables authors to enrich and extend their article by adding interactive maps. This provides a way to highlight their findings in a visual and easily accessible manner, helping readers to quickly understand the relevance of a research paper and to visualize research data for deeper insights.

How to submit KML files

Authors can use a choice of Geographic Information System applications to create KML files (see further information below). These files then need to be uploaded to the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) when uploading a manuscript file, images, and other supplementary data. Elsevier will generate interactive maps from the submitted KML files and include these in the online article.

The interactive maps application also supports KMZ files (zipped KML with supporting files), which can be uploaded through EES in the same way as KML files.

Please be advised that not all KML elements are supported by the interactive maps application used by the interactive viewer on ScienceDirect. Please take this limitation into account when preparing your files to ensure that they will be displayed correctly with your online article.

For a comprehensive description of KML elements supported by interactive maps, click here. Some notable limitations include:

  • Maximum file size 3 Mb
  • Maximum of 10 network links
  • Maximum of 1000 elements
  • No time-animated elements
  • No 3D models

You are strongly encouraged to validate your KML file before submitting it to Elsevier by importing it to Google Maps (maps.google.com). You can do this by logging in using your Google account, and then select "My places" > "Create Map" > "Import".

How to create KML files

KML is a data standard for geographical information connected to specific locations on Earth (and beyond). At a technical level, KML is an XML specification that has been recognized as an official standard by the Open Geospatial Consortium. It enjoys wide support by Geographic Information System (GIS) software including Google Earth.

More information on the KML standard can be found at the following resources:
Keyhole Markup Language on Wikipedia
KML Frequently Asked Questions on Google Code The KML format is supported by many specialized GIS software applications, including (but not limited to) the following:

If your GIS system cannot export data in the KML format, Google Earth also lets you import a variety of GIS data formats and save these as KML. The following resources provide more information on converting other file formats to KML:

Please note that Elsevier is not responsible for content on external websites.