Careers, Top tips

How to find, read and organise papers

From Nature Careers

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Academic Papers Graphic“I’ll read that later,” I told myself as I added yet another paper to my 100+ open browser tabs.

Of course, I didn’t read it later.

I was in the first year of my PhD programme, having just joined my thesis laboratory. It was an important period of transition: I was working out what project I would focus on for the next five years, and knew that success would require a strong intellectual foundation. I spent long hours poring over papers, determined to master the literature in my research area.

Yet despite good intentions, my efforts fell flat, due in large part to inefficiency. I had no way of tracking whether I was missing key studies in my topic area, and no system for keeping up with the new papers coming out daily. I frequently misplaced my reading notes, or failed to take good notes in the first place, and had to read the same papers again. The volume of papers was so overwhelming that I found myself procrastinating, making the problem even worse.

At some point, having so many open browser tabs caused my ageing laptop to crash, and all my tabs were lost. But rather than devastation, I felt relief: I realized that it was time to give my workflow a major overhaul.

In the two-plus years since, I’ve iterated through many versions of my workflow, and after lots of trial and error, I’ve finally found a literature-management system that works for me – Find out how in this post on the Nature Careers website.

Read the full post on the Nature Careers Website –


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