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I am doing my PhD research in a new multidisciplinary field within Computer Science. It is new in the sense that there are still no tools/implementations publicly available and several workshops co-located with different conferences. Many papers targeting this new area, have been published in different conferences and journals. As a PhD student and besides the scientific contributions, I would wonder what other soft things I can do for the field?

So far I have developed a tool for one of the main models in the field. I am documenting it to make it public. I thought about maintaining a bibliography. but not sure how beneficial it is.

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You should remember that as a Ph.D student, the instruments at your disposal are limited. Having said that, maintaining a bibliography is a useful way to collect all relevant information in one place, especially given the multidisciplinary nature of the area. If you do this though, be careful to

  • make sure things are always kept up-to-date. There's nothing more annoying than a half-baked reference page
  • Be very liberal in what you include in the bibliography. It shouldn't be perceived that you're being a gatekeeper for the area.
  • If possible, provide some structure to the bibliography: sections, maybe some annotation, etc. Depending on how web-savvy you are, you might be able to create a form for people to enter information in themselves.

The primary benefit for you will be access to the entire body of work in the area, and some credit for maintaining the page. There will undoubtedly be name recognition benefits if you are perceived not only as the librarian, but as an expert on the topic.

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Disclaimer: I am also currently a PhD student.

My research lies at the intersection(s) of HCI, privacy, location based social networks, mobility theory and spatial statistics. This means that the work in this area gets published from computer science-y journals like ACM CACM, IEEE Privacy & Security to communication-y journals like New Media and Society to conferences like CHI, SOUPS and MobileHCI.

I adopt 3 strategies to organize my own work. If I do not do this then the existing literature and new critical thinking about my area will spiral out of control for me.

  1. I maintain an annotated bibliography for any relevant work in this area. As Suresh pointed out, its generally up-to-date and quite liberal in nature. This is not public but I always email it to folks who ask for it. I find that maintaining a bibliography in Mendeley, exporting as a BibTeX file and writing a couple of sentences about each article works for me. I make sure that each article is filed under some loose sub-heading. For instance, one such general sub-heading in my area could be "Location Privacy and Surveillance."

  2. I write scripts in order to extract, manipulate and analyze data and I always publish them on github. This is public. Usually, I write scripts in php, python or R. Its great to see other folks forking my projects or following them and making them better than I could. :)

  3. I write short blog posts about my impressions on certain topics and also post some simplistic visualizations and analyses of my work there. I take special care in making sure that these are short but to the point. Nobody likes to read long, rambling blog posts. :P

  • Yes, I do mainly the same things as Shion describes. There are no testing tools for what I do, so I have developed them myself. – user7130 Oct 18 '13 at 5:57
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One very valuable thing you can do is to try to form or contribute to an online community of researchers in your subfield. In my area, these communities tend to form lately on Google+ and/or Twitter. You can start by following/adding to your circles people you know who use these social networks. Then when you read (or write) an interesting paper, post your commentary for others to read.

On G+, if you add the #spnetwork tag to your posts, they will also appear on https://selectedpapers.net/, giving them wider exposure.

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