After I posted “Why #365papers has been life-changing“, a few people asked me how to choose what to read. So, here’s a breakdown of how I find papers to read!
Google Scholar Alerts
The simplest way to stay on top of new research is to set up Google Scholar Alerts. (If you don’t have a Google Scholar profile, you should set one up!) Just go to the pancake icon in the left corner and click on “Alerts”. Click on “Create Alert” and go to town with keywords! You can also follow individual researchers. You’ll get an email whenever papers come out that fit your search terms or by a researcher you follow.
Every field has “the basics”. These are the citations that show up in basically every paper. For example, in paleobotany most paleoclimate papers start with a paragraph saying that we’ve known for 100 years that there is a relationship between leaf shape and climate. But have you read these papers? That’s a good place to start!
Follow the citations
So you’ve read some of the basics and you’re not sure what to read next. Follow the citations! You can do this two different ways. You can follow the citations back in time by looking at what papers were cited in the paper you just read. You can also follow the citations into the present by looking at who has cited the paper you just read (Google Scholar is good for this).
If you work closely with a collaborator or if you notice that you keep seeing the same name over and over in the papers you find, I recommend going to their Google Scholar/ResearchGate/other profile to look through all their published work. This can help you explore new avenues, especially if their focus is a bit different from yours.
I hope this was helpful! What do you do to find relevant papers in your field?