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I bet most of the users here had one of the following bad experiences: your idea and someone's idea happen to be very similar, manuscript topics got scooped, etc. Among these bad experiences, the worst is perhaps finding out a very similar paper was already published after the experimentation, simulation, writing, or even submission was done. This is very time consuming and stressful.

I realize that this question is very general and field-dependent. However, I would love to learn from your experience on how to efficiently look for related works in one's own field. For instance:

  1. Where (websites, publishers, pre-prints... )
  2. When should we find or update these related works, and
  3. What kind of tricks have you used to perform such searches efficiently.

To help you orient, my background is electrical and computer engineering, communication and image/video processing.

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3 Answers 3

  1. Scholar.Google.com, IEEE, and ACM
  2. After every major conference in your field.
  3. See 1, find a paper, then follow its references and the papers that cite it. Repeat.
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Actually, I did it but the keywork and searching enginee of IEEE is not very good. btw, what about other publiser such as SIAM, Elsevier etc... –  Atena Nguyen Mar 1 at 21:09
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@Atena Scholar.Google.com, don't limit yourself to specific publishers. –  Austin Henley Mar 1 at 21:27

In addition to searching the published literature (as the other answers suggest), if your subfield is a very active one you'll also want to know about almost-published literature. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Identify the important conferences in your field, and look through the list of accepted papers as soon as it becomes available.

  2. By following Austin Henley's suggestions you will notice that some names come up especially often as authors of related work. These are researchers doing work similar to yours, and therefore there is a good chance that their next paper will also be related. Find their homepages and monitor their publication lists on a regular basis. Many researchers list their "to appear" papers, which may not yet be available from the publisher.

If you suspect significant overlap based on a paper title you see in the program of an upcoming conference or the author's homepage, you can request a preprint from the author.

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Just one more question, how often should I do this? like update the list of related work? –  Atena Nguyen Mar 2 at 1:28
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At minimum: before you begin a project, when you start to write up the paper about the project, and before you submit the paper. Preferably: as often as you can stand, because reading as much as possible in your field makes you a better researcher :) –  ff524 Mar 2 at 1:32

In addition to the sources listed in A. Henley's answer, try also other databases like SCI (http://www.webofknowledge.com) and Scopus (http://scopus.com) to get a more complete picture.

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