Finding papers and books

How do you find useful papers? How do you decide if they are useful or not?

If you are working in a well-defined field it should be relatively easy to locate the heavily cited papers, the papers supposedly that are influential in shaping the field. But given that we now work in a world where pretty much all papers are available to us from pretty much all fields, it becomes a lot trickier to mark off some terrain and be confident that you have it all covered. This invariably suggests that you need to have a somewhat wider filter when looking for useful papers/ideas/books. Locating people in the field who share what they are reading, i.e. on twitter, or via one of the research share sites or perhaps via the bibliography of their latest paper/book.

Here your notebooks are important. If you don't keep track of the trails you follow and reflect on the utility of your ever improving search heuristics you'll waste a lot of time. So the mapping you do is so important here. It may well be that you discover a scholar from a field you thought had nothing to do with your's who has done important work in terms of your own agenda. You need to think more like a forager1, find the good spots, the sources, people, sites, whatever and make good use of them.

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