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I am currently a student doing research in Neuroscience, and as you can imagine it is a pretty big field. I am trying to better familiarize myself with my own subfield and other fields such stem cell research and genetics.

What is a good way to find some landmark papers and authors who are highly regarded in a certain field?

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    Ask Your Advisor™ – fkraiem Aug 10 '15 at 23:25
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    Download 10 random papers, make a ranking of the papers they cite. Then check the references of the papers that were reoccuring in your first round of papers. Iterate a few times and you'll see which papers are landmarks. – Marc Claesen Aug 11 '15 at 6:44
  • @MarcClaesen don't tell me - you're an algorithms person right? ;) Anyway this will just converge to the most highly cited papers... wouldn't a more direct approach work better? – Bitwise Aug 11 '15 at 12:47
  • @MarcClaesen That is actually a good idea... To look at the references of other papers. Thank you – Phil D Aug 16 '15 at 13:47
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To identify landmark papers, you can also consult the bibliography of your textbook if you have already taken classes that cover (even briefly) your subfield of interest. If your textbook is one that is used by a lot of university professors, then it probably covers landmark papers well. You can often identify the most important papers in a textbook because they'll possibly:

  • be referred to multiple times and in multiple chapters
  • appear near the beginning of a chapter when a topic is first introduced
  • explicitly be acknowledged in the text by the author of the textbook as a seminal paper

A disadvantage to this approach is that, depending on when your version of the textbook was last updated, it may miss important developments in recent yeras.

Identifying highly-regarded authors can be harder, but you can try looking up authors (especially last-named ones, who are often supervisors/professors) of important papers on, for example, Google Scholar, to see what else they have produced and whether they have a lot of highly cited papers.

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As already mentioned by @fkraiem, ideally your supervisor should be able to help here.

I know it happens, that PhD students end up with supervisors that are not specialists in their fields. In this case make use of Google Scholar and look of often cited publications, especially books. You can look for research groups that publish frequently at conferences/journals.

  • Unfortunately, my mentor is not a specialist in this topic I want to research. I'm doing this more to supplement my own knowledge than for a project. Otherwise, looking at books might be a good idea. Also, good point on the research groups, I'll have to take a look at this. – Phil D Aug 16 '15 at 13:51
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I suggest looking at highly cited papers. There are multiple tools that can directly access this type of data, such as Scopus and Web of Science. These are essentially databases that allow you to use complex queries on scientific literature and they contain citation statistics.

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