Getting up-to-date in science

Keeping the pace with the current flow of scientific publications is a herculean task; the number of journals to keep track of is growing every year. Moreover, in some fields the number of people doing research might as well be higher than some small nations. Despite this difficulties, finding (and reading, you lazy!) the latest relevant literature is very important for scientific success. For instance, it helps in getting the latest research vibes and avoids proposing the same ideas already pursued by someone else. It also helps a lot in writing the introduction of your next paper…

Every one has his own way of keeping up to date; here’s my personal list of things I do. Any suggestion or addition is very welcome.

  • Pubmed searches: this method is very specific and effective. Just make a pubmed search on one of your research topic while logged in; save it and set up a weekly email with all the new articles that have shown up in the last week. Tip: make the search specific enough to have maximum ~20 results per week; better to have many specific emails than just a really fat one.
  • Pubchase: a very recent service that reads your library (either mendeley or a good ol’ bibtex file) and sends you a weekly email with recent publications that match your profile. Less predictable, but works quite well.
  • A (very) few rss feeds: this option is less frequently used, because is less specific and can grow pretty quickly, depending on the number of journals. On the other side may lead to completely unrelated but inspiring works.
  • A Twitter lists: I keep all the scientists I find interesting in a quite big (and private, sorry) list, which I keep on a tweetdeck column. Some interesting papers came out just through this source, and sometimes even before they got published, as pre-prints. The signal-to-noise ratio is absolutely low, but a casual scrolling with the morning coffee never hurt anyone.

There are other options that I’m not currently using, like the Google scholar updates: I have just my articles in my scholar library, so I get really boring Genome Announcements papers. I’m pretty sure that Google is more than able to set up a recommendation service if given the right library.

That’s it! Now go read something interesting!