62

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


35

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 ...


26

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 ...


21

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

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

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.) ...


13

What is the academic argument against Sci-Hub? There are none. The arguments against sci-hub are legal or economic. Copyright is a legal right, not a moral or intellectual right. You could argue that repositories like ArXiv or open access journals are better than sci-hub because they are more reliable. But that is not an argument against sci-hub.


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

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 ...


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

More of a tip than a full answer but worth adding non-the-less: try starting off by reading 'review articles' rather than 'papers of original research'. The advantages of doing this are They provide an historical overview in most cases, useful for getting context They are more accessible (in terms of readability) They are longer, containing more ...


11

I'll chime in with a quite different opinion (or maybe a related opinion phrased in a different way), which grew out of advising/supervising PhD students and post-docs: reading for depth is a job requirement, but reading for breadth is what will make you stand out. As a PhD student, you are required to read in depth the papers that directly pertain to your ...


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 ...


11

There is no typical, even within a field, because different professors tend to find different "niches" in how they relate to the literature, and the depth with which they read papers. I have known some professors who establish themselves as the "scholars" of a department and deeply read dozens of papers per week. I have known other professors who rarely ...


11

It is counterproductive and anti-intellectual for a historian to "sanitize" history. One of the reasons to study history is to learn from it. If we provide only a nice-nicey view of history it is basically impossible to learn anything. We use innuendo instead of plain facts, perhaps, but that is just sweetener in a bitter pill. Historically bad things have ...


10

One criterion is how important these comparisons are for understanding your work. At one extreme, you may be writing a paper whose sole purpose is to address a gap in the literature by doing something in a better way than other papers or using different hypotheses. In that case, nobody can really understand your paper and its purpose without an explanation ...


10

There has already been much scholarship on the comparison of different academic search databases. I leave it to you to ascertain the usefulness of Google Scholar versus all the other usual suspects. Here, here, here, here and here are some of the prime literature on this topic. The real answer of course, to all your sub points is, it depends.


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