Reading publications allows scientists to benefit from previous ideas, data and interpretations. Therefore, for anyone with a scientific career, staying up-to-date with the literature is crucial. However, finding the time to do so can be difficult, particularly when the amount of new work being published is increasing. Last week, Science Careers asked a diverse group of scientists for their tips on how to best integrate keeping abreast of the latest research into their working routine.
The group identified several tools for identifying key papers. These included free alerting services such as PubCrawler and PubMed updates, which provide automatic email updates based on a saved search strategy. Feedly, which can be used to subscribe to the RSS feeds of relevant journals and the updates feature in Google Scholar, which recommends a selection of new papers to read based on your own publications, were also recognised. Further to these, recommendations from senior scientists on Faculty of 1000 and recommender systems such as PubChase were advocated, as was monitoring Reddit Science’s Ask Me Anything forum discussions. Overall, most of those asked stated that email alerts from key journals, monitoring social media for updates and recommendations from colleague were important for staying up-to-date with the latest developments.
Top tips for finding the time to read included setting aside a period once a week to review the output of literature searching tools; to read journal tables of contents as soon they arrive; to scan the titles and abstracts of newly published papers, and then decide which to carefully read; and to tweet or blog about a paper weekly as an incentive to read in depth. The scientists interviewed also provided advice on how to conduct more extensive background literature searches, how to prioritise what to read and how to reduce the chance of missing an important paper.