63

Many papers are freely available on authors' websites, and preprint servers (use search engine to find those). Write to the authors, asking for copies. Majority of academics are happy when their work is read, and will send you a copy. Your public library might subscribe to more than you suspect. Check it out. When I was a student in a community college, my ...


56

To add to Boris Bukh's suggestions: Many institutions grant library privileges to alumni, which might include remote access to the university's online subscriptions. You might get in touch with the librarian at your alma mater and ask if they offer such a thing. (In some cases you might be required to join the alumni association and pay dues, but this ...


49

(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 ...


48

My experience is almost exclusively with mathematics papers, and applies little or not at all to other fields. Much of eykanal's post applies to math as well, but one big difference is that math papers are much more varied in their structure, not having an actual experiment to tie them together. A good paper will generally explain its organization in the ...


45

This post refers to research in the STEM fields, and may not be applicable to other research topics. One of my biggest epiphanies in research came when I learned how to read a paper. Reading scientific publications is completely different from reading literature or news. At the beginning of your research career, you can expect to spend a full day (if not ...


36

Literature search, to me, is like the recipe of potato salad: everyone has at least one, and they always claim that theirs is the best. In fact, we just use what we feel comfortable and, so far, has not caused any major meltdown. So, bear in mind that these are just what work for me, and you should modify them along the way. Schedule a meeting with a ...


33

If you know that the relevant literature is mostly in one community, then the approach you've described works fairly well. It may be "inefficient" if there are lots of related papers, but (to use computer science jargon), it's efficient in the size of the output :) I have found that finding a recent survey helps a lot, because it taxonomizes the literature ...


32

During my PhD, I subscribed to the RSS feeds of the journals I would regularly read (started with 6 of them, ended up with a dozen). I would skim through titles of all new articles, and read abstracts of those whose title drew my eye. I then found out that some journals (J. Chem. Phys. in that particular case) offer specific RSS feeds for each of their ...


25

This question seems to be based on a common misconception about the role of citations (see this question for a related issue). Citations aren't just there to list content your work builds on; they're also there to provide the reader with context and motivation. The reason you should be citing recent work is to help the reader. If you were familiar with ...


22

Finding good research "gaps" is indeed a challenging and important task. It has different components that all require slightly different skills. Above all, a useful research gap is interesting, feasible, and unexplored: interesting: I think this part goes without saying. But how do you determine 'interestingness' ? This is a complex mix of structural ...


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.


20

As a computer scientist, I often encounter this as well. I have seen three main approaches used, in decreasing order of preference Cite the paper about the software, if one exists: academic software is often the subject of papers, and the authors very much appreciate those citations, often explicitly requesting them in the software documentation. Cite the ...


19

I'm also on a saga to look for this tool, hopefully the answers in this thread can end all the search. Here is what I know. There used to be a software called RefViz that does what you exactly want. It was released by Thomson at a price of about US$295. Unfortunately, the response wasn't too good and it seems the product has been discontinued for more than ...


17

In many cases, even through the early 2000's, publishers produced print journals using older type setting systems and did not produce PDFs of the papers for online publication. Once the papers were type set for printing, the publisher might have discarded all of the files associated with the papers or they might have just kept a file containing a print-...


16

Here is a subject map of science: It is taken from the following paper, freely available from Plos One: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0039464?imageURI=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0039464.g001 I think that this is the sort of thing that you are interested in. N.B. I am not a co-author, nor have I read the paper, so I make ...


15

This is about my experience in computer engineering I found that reading for breadth was the more important approach. The area of research I was interested in was pretty fluffly and ill-defined (I thought I could make a difference by organizing it better), so that many relevant articles were categorized in totally different areas. This meant I had to have ...


15

Your assumption is wrong: The requirement to cite the recent literature is a valid reason for rejection on many fields as well and is certainly not a humanities thing. Why? You give the answer yourself: my own paper, if correct and substantial, would have been accepted But how can the reviewer judge that (the substantial contribution at least) if you do ...


14

At the beginning read anything and everything (and take notes). You should always be reading something and writing something. The hardest part for most students in the sciences to get past is embracing the unknown. You will probably feel the need to understand everything, right from the start. Unless you are exceptional, you probably will have to read the ...


14

A month after asking this question I randomly stumbled onto the type of solution which I was originally seeking -- open-market subscription based access to multiple journals and full-text article links from sources such as Google Scholar, PubMed, EconLit, etc. While searching for full text access to an article on Manufactured Environmental Toxins in ...


13

Almost none. I recently wrote a research survey, while on sabbatical at an institution without a physical library, but with extensive electronic subscriptions. I never missed having physical library access, even for papers dating back to the 1840s. (In fact, the historical literature was more likely to be freely available than papers from the 1980s.) ...


12

I find it important to be as active as possible in your reading, especially for papers close to the questions you are working on. If you are only highlighting, then this is largely a passive activity, and does not help much with retention or even later rereading. If you are making notes, it is a little bit better, but still largely passive. For important ...


12

As a current student, I find that the constant barrage of requests makes it very hard for me to keep up with the literature unless it is very pertinent to my staying afloat. Thus, reading should be tied to my staying afloat. The most effective way seems to be a journal club with the advisor with the duty of presenting rotating between the advisees. As a ...


12

I see humorous titles in scientific articles now and again, like the "Wizard of Odds" joke in a recent commentary in Epidemiology. One should however be somewhat cautious. The general use of "marketing gimmicks" like questions in the title have been suggested to increase downloads but not actual citations - which flawed or not flawed form the basis for how ...


12

It depends on the purpose of the paper. If it is a review article on the effects of different flavor of ice cream, it may well be appropriate to cite far more papers than it would be if you are merely establishing the point in a paper containing your original research on the subject. In the latter case you may even be able to cite someone else's review. ...


11

It depends on the structure of the group, and the research area. I'm in computer science, in a specific subfield, and so I know when the main conference paper lists come out. I try to publicize these lists, and have meetings where we discuss papers that sound interesting - I also point out papers that have done something significant. This only works well ...


11

I agree with Henry about breadth vs. depth. You'll ultimately be judged on depth, so that has to be your first priority. However, breadth is quite valuable too. Many breakthroughs have come by applying standard techniques from one area to a new area. The $.02 I want to add is that not all reading is created equal. Particularly when you're learning a ...


11

If you limit yourself to only internet searches, your success will depend on your key search words as you mention. Doing such a search is of course an integral part in the approach but what you also need to do is the following Try to figure out what constitute key journals in your area based on your web searches and start browsing the table of contents of ...


11

My situation is different from JeffE's. I had been looking for a couple of old CS books (in automata and switching circuit theory) published in 1960's. I finally found them in an institue library. According to the librarian there, the two books I wanted to borrow had not been checked out for at least two decades. This is just me. My research area is not ...


11

The purpose of a citation is twofold: It prevents you from taking credit for other person's work. It can serve as an "external appendix" (the interested reader can read more in ...) Neither requires that you cite everybody. If there is a large body of work done already, then typically one or more overview articles have already appeared. You can cite those, ...


11

I have a similar history of reviewing papers at around eight years, though in the fields of engineering and robotics. Between the official reviews for journals or conferences (which are almost all single blind and in rare cases double blind) and informal reviews for colleagues, I would say I differ only in level of tactfulness. The stakes in the official ...


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