For example, say you have 100 papers but only have time to read 10 of them - you need some way of determining which 10 to read

The two main methods for ranking papers I'm aware of are:

  • Looking at the number of citations.

  • Asking old mate Bob who sits in the corner, about the latest, best papers.

Are there are other methods for gauging significance (particularly for recent research) that I'm not aware of?

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    Ranking for what purpose? – ff524 Jun 2 '16 at 18:17
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    Seconding @ff524's question: to what end do you want "ranking"? And this rhetorical question (for me) is really just a thinly-veiled skepticism that "citation index" or any other "ranking" is a fruitful way to be thinking about papers. They're just not linearly ordered from best to worst, even within fields. "Even" less famous papers often contain important information. It's not the ranking, it's the content, and content is too complex to be ranked. – paul garrett Jun 2 '16 at 18:27
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    At least in mathematics, it might not be possible to know what you need until you've read parts of papers that steer you elsewhere. And maybe just read one section of some papers. Also, sometimes one simply has to "skim" rather than "read", if all 100 papers are significant. Many variables in play... Or after "reading" one paper, you realize that the newly-realized real issue is addressed elsewhere. Often this "inefficiency" is inescapable, even with expert advice. No answer at all but to keep many threads going... e.g., skimming as well as careful reading of basically everything you see. – paul garrett Jun 2 '16 at 19:13
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    Read the abstracts! That's what abstracts are for. – Significance Jun 3 '16 at 2:47
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    I think you need to get away from a binary read/not-read classification. – Patricia Shanahan Jun 3 '16 at 3:00

I put papers in front of a big fans and turn on the fans. I rank those papers by the distance they travel before they drop on the floor.

The accuracy of this method is about the same as looking at number of citations.

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