If you need help with online teaching or other challenges in academia arising from the COVID-19 crisis, we have prepared this FAQ to get you started.
106

We depended on libraries and librarians. Grad students would spend hours in, say, the math section of a good academic library, going from book to book and taking copious notes (on paper, of course). But, often enough, the next paper we needed to look at wasn't in that library at all, so you would go to the librarian and ask for a loan of the resource from ...


58

Yes, you can. Chances are they'll be willing to give it to you. See also: Can a referee request a paper referenced in the reviewed paper?, except your situation is simpler because the desk editor of the journal can probably already access the paper and won't have to request it.


50

(disclaimer - I come from computer science, and the little I know about conventions in philosophy is from hearsay) I'd like to be able to say "I looked around on Google scholar, etc, and I couldn't find anything about this topic" The usual expression for this kind of thing in my field is "to the best of our knowledge, this topic/idea has so far not been ...


50

One point that the other answers have passed over is that there were various services the libraries subscribed to which surveyed the literature and provided abstracts and cross indexing of the primary journals. Science Citation Index was mentioned in a comment, but there was also Science Abstracts, which had been published since 1898. These were hefty print ...


42

I am concerned by your choice of words: "Obscure": one person's obscure may be another person's core community. "Low IF": IF is very dependent on both community and "trendiness." A lot of very good work is published in low IF venues because they are the appropriate place to publish the result. "Unknown ... and unexpected": again, not unusual at all for ...


36

Why donʼt you contact the Leiden Universityʼs library for advice? Iʼm sure that the library has a copy of it, and they might have translations as well. The author seems to be very prolific, the library has many pieces of his work listed on their online catalog.


36

In the future, your university librarians are MADE for this! Don't feel ashamed to ask -- there are librarians more into archiving and cataloging, and some more into education and service. Give as much information as you currently have, and they'll find it for you AND/OR show you how to find it yourself in the future (if it's accessible via a resource ...


33

The paper appears black because Google Scholar has not found the full-text of the paper during its crawls. Rather it has extracted the document as a citation from other documents it has seen. Hence Google Scholar knows that the document exists (it has been cited) but does not know where to find it.


32

Reviewing the literature relevant to a given field is a standard part of doing research, as this serves to put your work into the context of the larger discipline in which you are working. If there is an actual difference between the "literature survey" and the "literature review," it's that the latter can serve as a paper in and of itself, and is much more ...


32

A reprint of the paper is available under DOI 10.1007/978-94-009-2079-8_15, the complete title is "Further experiments with liquid helium. C. On the change of electric resistance of pure metals at very low temperatures etc. IV. The resistance of pure mercury at helium temperatures." I was able to find this by excluding the author's given name; this expands ...


31

(Comment extended to post:) My impression is that part of the answer is "they didn't", or more precisely "they were only as good at it as their own knowledge and that of their communities". In particular, at least anecdotally, many things in mathematics were discovered in parallel for lack of easy communication and inter-visibility. [This is complementary ...


30

There are a lot of good publications in the world that are not published by mega-publishers. Some of them you've never heard of because they are regional or specific to certain subfields, but are still very good. It's also often difficult for people from certain countries to publish in mainstream conference venues due to visa issues. For example, IEEE and ...


30

I don't think it's too harsh to be suspicious. I think that suspicion should be the default state of academics appraising each other's work. Nor do I think that you need to be equally suspicious of everyone: if certain indicators make you more suspicious, go for it. Having "a nose for the truth" is part of being a successful academic, and I don't think it'...


27

Well, I have written couple of survery/review articles published in prestigious journals here, here, and here and hence I think I can give you some hint on this question. First View: One of the most important things to consider is that, these terms have been used differently in varied academic disciplines and even in some cases they are used interchangeably ...


25

The advice I was given by my supervisor is to write about a paragraph on each of the four following points for each paper you read (note, this is from a very CS perspective): What's the context for the paper, in other words, what is the issue that the paper's trying to tackle, and what's the prior work in the area, or the work that the paper's trying to ...


22

I'm not sure, whether you really meant open access journals, because when I'm searching at home and I'm too lazy to use the VPN of our university, I'm usually interested in publications I can access. I wouldn't rely on Google Scholar alone, because I'm not sure whether they filter the results. When you study the advanced search of google a bit, you'll see, ...


21

The most relevant works we found are (cite the publication where the water first have been mentioned when your publication is about the invention of the submarine) however they (and say why actually not too relevant). This will not protect from the deserved criticism if the relevant publications do exist.


21

Any of the scenarios you describe can happen, in practice. (I am in the United States; this may differ in other countries.) It depends on the student's interests and abilities, the advisor's interests and advising style, how broad advisor's interests are, whether the advisor has funding for a particular project and needs a student to work on that problem, ...


20

Although I haven't really known this time myself, I think it's important to mention the much more crucial role that conferences and journals used to play in the dissemination of specialized knowledge. A researcher would usually try to attend the conferences of their field and get their local library to subscribe to the relevant journals in order to keep up ...


19

I try to give a brief summary to every article I read. I highlight and make notes on the paper and transfer this from analogue to digital with Mendeley. In Mendeley there is a 'notes' section, where I post notes about the article. This includes: Hypothesis Interesting methods Important conclusions Thoughts for the future Maybe this is something you can ...


19

Check out Publish or Perish. You can run keyword queries on Google Scholar from there, and export the results to .csv, which you can later open from Excel


18

In addition to your proposals and ff524's answer, another common pattern is Grad student is employed by a grant / funded project and needs to deliver more or less what the grant promised At least in Europe, that actually seems to be the predominant mode of topic selection. Most students are externally funded by relatively concrete projects, and not all ...


17

This exact question has been asked at Webapps Stack Exchange: Is there a way to configure Google Scholar to only show results where the document is freely available? Quoting from the (unaccepted) answer there: Unfortunately there isn't an option to restrict results like that in Google Scholar (I appreciate the idea, running into paywalls is very ...


17

You can use intitle: to search for phrases in the title (no space after the colon) and similarly you can use intext: to search in the body. intitle:"meta analysis" intext:Alexandria


16

Short answer is no. Although EBSCO appears to be ubiquitous, the level of access you can find across ALL schools definitely varies. As undergrads at a community college, my classmates and I would occasionally visit nearby university libraries just to access their larger online databases. Not only did they subscribe to more databases, they also had greater ...


15

This seems like an impossible task. You're right, it is impossible. One can really never hope to gain a "complete" knowledge of a field, or even a subfield. You just have to do the best you can, in the time you have, to identify the most significant basic work related to your area of interest, and work that specifically addresses the questions you are ...


15

This is a really important question, and it's one that isn't asked enough. From reading your question, though, it sounds like you are rushing a bit. Renowned physicist and biologist Uri Alon (34k+ citations) has written an excellent paper on 'How To Choose a Good Scientific Problem' and one of his main points is that one, however cliché it sounds, should ...


15

These central repositories exists - they are called a (digital) library. What we typically mean with "doing literature review" is going into one or more digital libraries and retrieving all information on the subject. Given how heterogenous research questions, approaches, and scientific results are, it seems fundamentally impossible to provide much more ...


14

I have undertaken to create such lists as an academic exercise myself, and quite a lot of effort is involved in doing this. There are a variety of approaches that I will suggest, and I would place more emphasis on the first approaches. Literature review papers: Look for literature reviews on the subject of interest. Read the reviews' analysis and discussion ...


14

Years ago, I was on the college executive committee when we had to decide whether a certain experimental physicist should be promoted (to tenure, if I remember correctly). Her papers were of the sort you describe, huge collaborations that gave us no information about the extent and quality of her contribution to the project. But that information was provided,...


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