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What is the best way to go about to find a certain research group that do work in a specific field (e.g research groups doing empirical brain investigations but working from a dualistic perspective, or research groups doing eyetracker work on infants)?

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    Um... did you try Google? (In computer science, it would unthinkable for a faculty member not to have a web page advertising their group's research results, usually with pointers to local copies of their papers. This is a comment instead of an answer because it looks like you're in a different field.) – JeffE Feb 26 '12 at 15:57
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Well, I find reasonable numbers for research groups focusing on eyetracking by using Google and search operators. Of course, you should add some redundant similar terms (eye-movement, baby,...)

Notice, there are some patterns:

  • american universities nearly always have edu (actually it's even a domain) in their URL, german univ. uni. So using inurl:edu in google filters out a lot. Non-university institutes like german Max-Planck often have URL patterns too.

  • further add -filetype:pdf -filetype:doc -filetype:ppt -filetype:ps to filter out more useless results

  • add 2010..2012 to be sure the site/group is still active and the topic on their agenda.

  • add research | forschung (latter being german translation, but afaik nowadays most natural sciences groups in Germany have a english (& german) page)

Some research branches also have a online directory, there exist also internet directories like dmoz (not sure if this stuff is up to date, probably some dead links):

http://www.eurosys.org/directory/

http://www.dmoz.org/Science/Biology/Neurobiology/Research_Groups_and_Centers/

http://www.ida.liu.se/ext/etai/actions/colloq/groups.html

At least I can say that most research groups in Germany will have a english home page and short summary/research topics/open positions on it. So there should be no general problem to find them by some "serious" googling. But don't use too specific keywords, "eyetracking on infants", "dualistic view" is too special imho, use keywords being specific rather to the topic than the exact methodology. They are probably mainly interested in how the visual recognition system adapts and learns over time, this is the bigger thematic picture. You attract master and phd students not by naming a special experimental method, so you will not find these type of keywords often on a group page, where they often try to put in a minimum of time.

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    I've nearly forgotten that you actually can make more specific Google searches than just typing in a bunch of words and hope for the best. This is some great advice, thanks! – Speldosa Feb 27 '12 at 10:50
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    @Speldosa googling is a art & science but imho the most important soft skill for todays students with growing redundancy of online contents, but there is light at the end of the tunnel googleguide.com/advanced_operators_reference.html Take a look at the websites of some research groups, there are more patterns, like often links named jobs, positions, people, staff. Include this in your search. Know the operators AND use them. – Hauser Feb 27 '12 at 13:54
  • Thanks for the link! To learn to google things more efficiently will be my project this week! – Speldosa Feb 27 '12 at 17:22
  • Note: Just using the "uni" designation would exclude most of the TH's and TU's in Germany—which are the schools most likely to be doing the kinds of research the original poster might be interested in! Also, if there's no English-language version of the homepage, you'd need to search for the German-language equivalents of the search terms. – aeismail Feb 28 '12 at 11:05
  • @aeismail Correct. To my knowlegde TH/U's focus more on applied sciences and engineering, less on fundamental research (here imo the case) in medicine/biology/neuroscience. But I mainly tried to show OP some patterns he should look for in the countries of his choice, I cannot cover all countries here. Helmholtz, Max Planck, Leibniz... also have different URL patterns. The group websites are in natural sciences afaik mostly english, as one of the main purposes of this sites is to attract master/phd students. For humanities in Germany I would rather use german search keywords. – Hauser Feb 28 '12 at 12:22
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I would try the following, in order of "how useful the results will be":

  1. If you know someone - anyone - in the field, have them recommend names of labs/professors to you. The names they give you will likely be people relevant to their research who have done solid research, and have really established their names in the field. This is the best approach.

  2. If you have access to journal articles, find a good journal in field X and look for a recent paper. There are two ways to do this one:

    1. Look in a couple of articles that seem interesting and see which authors are cited most often in the "introduction" section. Chances are, those authors have completed some recent seminal work, which all these other papers are using as their research springboard.
    2. Look for a review paper, and see who is cited often. This isn't such a good method, as I've found that many review articles will be fairly biased towards themselves/their collaborators, but it still can be useful.
  3. Go to any big-name university's department web page for field X and browse the faculty listings. This is a total crapshoot; you'll find lots of labs, but there's no surefire way to tell quality of lab from their department web page.

  • +1 for "see which authors are cited most often in the "introduction" section" – Ooker Oct 20 '15 at 8:30
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Frequently formalized groups of academics hold conferences, or if it is a more specialized field they are frequently part of a broader conference but have special panels/proceedings/meetings within the larger conference.

So possibilities of finding such groups are;

  • Looking at the CV of authors in the field to see if they are members of such organizations or have presentations at said conferences.
  • Looking for conferences in the broader field, and seeing if they host research on specific topics.

Other possibilities include email list-serves and forums. I'm not sure if I have any better advice to find such groups than besides doing regular internet searches though.

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If you know specific search terms you're looking for, you could begin by searching Web of Science for the specific combinations you're looking for, and then following up on the specific groups that are returned by such a search.

You may need to use some creativity in narrowing down the search criteria to avoid getting 5000 hits that you need to sift through, but there are a large number of possible "narrowing" options on Web of Science (year of publication, location, sorting by citations, etc.) that can help you.

Alternatively, sites like academia.edu or even a more generic engine like Scholar Google may be able to assist you in this process.

  • I agree. Only that Scholar Google is not one of the best options given all the noise that it pro cues. Sometimes Scopus works much better than WOS – Open the way Feb 26 '12 at 14:35
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I found one possibly relevant result searching Mendeley for your topic of interest. The advantage of using Mendeley over Google is that you can limit your search to researcher profiles. On-site people search is a little broken sometimes, so you might have better luck actually doing a Google search but limiting it to Mendeley profiles like this: https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=eyetracking+site%3Amendeley.com%2Fprofiles%2F

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