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But I find that keeping up with the literature always comes with a trade-off: Do I spend more time on my research projects, or do I read the latest papers?
To keep on top of my specialty area, I carry out regular, systematic literature searches using a tool called Pub Crawler.
Pub Crawler automatically searches online publication databases using key search terms that I set up, and it sends me a weekly email highlighting all the new and potentially relevant papers, with a link to the abstract or full text.
I find out about other recently published papers I ought to read from email alerts I get from the key journals in my area.
And so it can all too easily happen that this important task of investing in your knowledge gets prioritized lower than all the other apparently more urgent duties that you have as a scientist.
Our job is to push the frontier of what is already known, so we need to be aware of where this frontier is.
Another challenge lies in the immense amount of new work that constantly gets published.
The number of journals and venues is very large, and it continues to grow.
This is further aggravated if you work in a field that is multidisciplinary, because then this number is multiplied, becoming barely manageable.
I like spending a few minutes every morning skimming recent publications for articles that are especially interesting or relevant to my work.
Coupled with a regular block every Friday devoted to more critical reading and lots of note taking, this generally allows me to stay up to date.