Monday, February 7, 2011

Reading the literature

Since January, I have been making a stronger effort to keep up with the literature. Since joining the TT, I've had less and less time to just sit and think about research. One of the easiest things to do is to let reading new publications slide, since there are no deadlines and no immediate rewards. In the past, I've used emailed Table of Content, which I would skim over when they came in. I now find that email is way too easy to ignore these days, especially in the volumes I now receive.

I have three proposals in preparation right now, and I am starting to plan a fourth. I've noticed that it is harder for me to think of new and interesting projects lately, but not all the time. After attending a meeting, I am bursting with ideas. I just need that exposure to new ideas and new experiments to get my own creativity flowing. I know some people rely on their students and seminar attendance to keep themselves current, but that just hasn't been working for me. I clearly needed to make a change, and I think I found a solution (for now).

Using an RSS reader to read journals has been a revelation. It is much, much easier to skim through and click on what I want to look at in small time blocks, since I don't need to get through the whole contents in one sitting. Now that I am "caught up" in the feeds, I mostly see the ASAPs, which come in a few at a time instead of with a firehose of new stuff all at once. To anyone else who is struggling with this problem and hasn't tried RSS yet, I highly recommend it.


rolva said...

Our research group uses RSS not only to keep up with the lit, but we also subscribe to each others "shared items" in google reader so we may instantly share interesting items with the group.

Female Computer Scientist said...

I tried this as well, and at first it was great. But then somehow I was subscribed to a gazillion feeds, and now I just feel daunted looking at it.

As a present I received a few paper journal subscriptions, and I'm actually *somewhat* more inclined to sit with them, believe it or not :)

academicgrinch said...

Getting on top of the literature via RSS feeds is highly recommended. I have those feeds linked to my Google reader, so I can add tags and notes too—much easy to organize for different topics.

Bashir said...

Same problem with emails. I just signed up for email alerts last semester. I spent all this time deciding what to sign up for, how to filter the emails, and now I rarely even look at them.

I'll try out RSS.

grumpy said...

What's worked for me: emailing colleagues links to articles I found interesting and think they might to.

I find that they return the favor and catch papers I might have overlooked. Much easier than scouring TOC of 5-6 journals every month (though as a postdoc, I try my best to do that too).