I'm currently in a PhD program in Electrical Engineering. Sometimes, my adviser will send me papers with a small note such as "I thought this may be relevant to your work. Please have a look and see if it is helpful." Because I'm relatively new to the field that I'm working in, reading a paper, even if not as rigorously, takes me some time. The main reason is that I am often not familiar with the technical terms in the paper, so I need to look them up while skimming.
While I appreciate my adviser's consideration for sending me paper X, it will often be the case that I am working on implementing something from paper Y when they send me paper X to read. Paper Y could have been a previous paper that my adviser recommended, or it could be one that I found.
Because these papers are technical in nature, so that only reading the abstract would not give me a good enough idea of whether they are helpful or not, I feel that my progress towards paper Y would be slowed down considerably if I split my time between reading paper X and working on paper Y, as the repeated context switching would waste some time. This is especially true if my adviser sends me more than one paper to look through.
I've added below some ways I thought of proceeding, and I'd appreciate any feedback on them, or any another way that I haven't mentioned.
- Thank my adviser for sending over the papers, and let them know that I will get to them as soon as I'm done with the current paper that I'm reading/working on. I'm not sure if this approach would be considered rude or not.
- Drop the current paper that I'm reading/working on and focus on the paper(s) that my adviser sent over. While this may please my adviser, I feel that my own progress would slow down, especially since I would be constantly reading over papers that my adviser sends over and not actually getting any work done.
- Split my time between the papers that I'm working on and the papers that my adviser sends me. As I mentioned, because of the repeated context switching, I feel that this approach would slow me down.