Autocomplete entities

The autocomplete endpoint lets you add autocomplete or typeahead components to your applications, without the overhead of hosting your own API endpoint.

Each endpoint takes a string, and (very quickly) returns a list of entities that match that string.

Here's an example of an autocomplete component that lets users quickly select an institution:

This is the query behind that result:

The autocomplete endpoint is very fast; queries generally return in around 200ms. If you'd like to see it in action, we're using a slightly-modified version of this endpoint in the OpenAlex website here:

Request format

The format for requests is simple: /autocomplete/<entity_type>?q=<query>

  • entity_type (optional): the name of one of the OpenAlex entities: works, authors, sources, institutions, concepts, publishers, or funders.

  • query: the search string supplied by the user.

You can optionally filter autocomplete results.

Response format

Each request returns a response object with two properties:

  • meta: an object with information about the request, including timing and results count

  • results: a list of up to ten results for the query, sorted by citation count. Each result represents an entity that matched against the query.

    meta: {
        count: 183,
        db_response_time_ms: 5,
        page: 1,
        per_page: 10
    results: [
            id: "",
            display_name: "University of Florida",
            hint: "Gainesville, USA",
            cited_by_count: 17190001,
            entity_type: "institution",
            external_id: ""
        // more results...

Each object in the results list includes these properties:

  • id (string): The OpenAlex ID for this result entity.

  • external_id (string): The Canonical External ID for this result entity.

  • display_name (string): The entity's display_name property.

  • entity_type (string): The entity's type: author, concept, institution, source, publisher, funder, or work.

  • cited_by_count (integer): The entity's cited_by_count property. For works this is simply the number of incoming citations. For other entities, it's the sum of incoming citations for all the works linked to that entity.

  • works_count (integer): The number of works associated with the entity. For entity type work it's always null.

  • hint: Some extra information that can help identify the right item. Differs by entity type.

The hint property

Result objects have a hint property. You can show this to users to help them identify which item they're selecting. This is particularly helpful when the display_name values of different results are the same, as often happens when autocompleting an author entity--a user who types in John Smi is going to see a lot of identical-looking results, even though each one is a different person.

The content of the hint property varies depending on what kind of entity you're looking up:

  • Work: The work's authors' display names, concatenated. e.g. "R. Alexander Pyron, John J. Wiens"

  • Author: The author's last known institution, e.g. "University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA"

  • Source: The host_organization, e.g. "Oxford University Press"

  • Institution: The institution's location, e.g. "Gainesville, USA"

  • Concept: The Concept's description, e.g. "the study of relation between plant species and genera"

IDs in autocomplete

Canonical External IDs and OpenAlex IDs are detected within autocomplete queries and matched to the appropriate record if it exists. For example:

Filter autocomplete results

All entity filters and search queries can be added to autocomplete and work as expected, like:

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