Four Ways to Stay on Top of New Developments in your Field
Take charge and delegate tasks to your new personal research assistants
Image credit: Brooke Lark on Unsplash
This post originally appeared as part of the Citavi Summer newsletter series for thesis writers and has now been revised and reposted for a larger audience in our blog
Once you've done the bulk of your research and are heavily involved in the writing process, you will likely no longer be searching for new sources as frequently. Here are our four suggestions for efficiently keeping on top of new developments in your field.
- Search alerts
When you perform a search in an online database, you can create an alert that will notify you whenever an article is added that matches your search terms. Databases from larger publishers will almost always have an option to create a search alert, although sometimes you need to create a free account with them first. In the Citavi manual, we explain how to subscribe to a search alert from PubMed.
- RSS feeds
Similar to search alerts but not limited to online databases, RSS feeds can tell you when a website has new content. For example, you can subscribe to an academic blog to hear about the latest developments in your field.
For both search alerts and more general feeds, you'll save the feed address in what's known as a feed reader. There are many different readers available – including one built in to Citavi! If you add news feed subscriptions to Citavi, you'll see a notification on the right side of the Citavi Welcome Screen when new content is published. To add an article from a search alert to your project, just click the Citavi symbol.
- Twitter (and other social media platforms)
Is social media a necessity for academics or something to avoid? The rapid and heated responses to a 2016 article in The Guardian lambasting academics who heavily engage in Twitter and other tools seems to suggest it is, at least for many people.
Whatever your feelings may be regarding the border between your professional life and your online activity, social media certainly has its place as a resource for academic news. If leading academics in your field post regularly on a social media platform, you may want to subscribe to keep up with their latest findings. Can't attend a conference on your research topic? Many academics will post links to slides or share key findings on Twitter using the conference hashtag.
For additional inspiration check out Newcastle Library's excellent guide "Social Media for Research".
- Citation searching
Are you interested in knowing which other papers also cited the same key articles you're referencing in your paper or thesis? Perform a citation search in Web of Knowledge or other databases that support this feature. The Open University provides a short introduction.
Hint for Citavi users: after performing your search, you can import the results into Citavi. To keep track of sources that reference other sources in your project, create links between them.
As you can see, there are a number of tools you can use to keep up-to-date.
One cautionary note, however: when using social media, it's easy to get distracted by all the new content constantly being added. Make sure to set time limits to keep these tools from pulling you away from your writing.
We’d love to hear your tips for staying up to date with new developments in your field. Please share your strategies with us on Facebook!