How to keep current on literature

June 01, 2016

Although our spring quarter is coming to a close, we're still keeping busy! We wanted to share how we keep up on literature regardless of our exhaustive schedules.

Emily Wilson

I use Google Scholar alerts so that I know when an important paper has been cited in a new publication.  I also do regular literature searches.  

Andrea Adams

There are lots of different ways I stay up-to-date on the literature, and most of them get delivered directly to my email inbox. I get periodic emails from [Google Scholar]( Alerts, where I’ve entered specific keywords that I’m interested in being up-to-date on. I also get emails with updates on the Conservation literature from the Society for Conservation Biology’s [Conservation Magazine]( These are great because they are synthesis articles of new literature and cover a much broader range of systems than my other sources. [Researchgate]( also sends me email updates when someone I follow publishes a new paper. I follow a lot of colleagues and other scientists doing cool, interesting work on Twitter, so I often find out about new publications when I peruse my [Twitter]( feed. I often see other papers I want to read whenever I am reading a publication, and so I don’t lose my end goal of finishing the paper at hand, I will copy and paste the citation into a reading list that I keep on my desktop and follow up on it later. How do I keep up with everything on my reading list? I prioritize them by how interesting they are to me right now, and how relevant they are to the questions I’m currently working on—then I’m more likely to be really engaged with their content and glean the most from them.

Andy MacDonald

Staying on top of the literature in your field can be an extremely daunting challenge. Just knowing what is published is hard enough, let alone actually finding time to read and absorb the new science. To help with this task, I primarily use google scholar citation alerts, which compiles lists of recently published papers that overlap with papers you have cited in your own publications. This ensures a focus on closely related work to your own. I also keep an eye on researchgate, which is a great place to share your work with colleagues/academic acquaintances and stay on top of the ever-burgeoning literature.

Mark Wilber

I am not sure if this is a universal feeling, but I always feel a bit of FOMO (I literally learned what that meant last week, lol) when fellow researcher says, "Oh yeah, of course you have read Doe et al. 2013 right? They describe the concept so well in there!" and, of course, I have no clue what is in Doe et al. 2013. Sometimes it is hard not to nod along as if I am intimately familiar with the classic work of Doe et al. 2013, all the while thinking, "Ah crap, how did I miss Doe *et al.*! I love Doe *et al.*" (or more often, "I probably should have heard of Doe *et al.*.."). However, over the past few years of graduate school is has become apparent that no matter how much you read there is always going to be a Doe et al. 2013.  Given this, I have actively tried to de-FOMO and accept the fact that keeping up with the literature is hard work! Here are a few really general strategies that I have implemented to do my best to find those Doe et al.'s

1. I find that sites like Research Gate and tools like Google Scholar's citations alert do a good job alerting me when new, relevant publications come out. While I find that I quickly fall behind Google Scholar's citations alerts, it is nice to have them there to peruse when I get a moment.

2. Most journals have blog post when they release a new issue with a nice summary of some of the major topics covered.  It is an easy way to quickly read about what is new in a journal you like.  I tend to enjoy the one for [Methods in Ecology and Evolution](

3. Finally, despite the FOMO that might sometimes come with it, asking my colleagues often provides the quickest route to important literature, both old and new!