Friday, March 02, 2007

Lit searches can be fun in unexpected ways

As a way of getting past the journal article block I mentioned a few posts ago, I'm revisiting some of the papers that I've cited in most of my own papers, sort of as a way of reminding myself what differentiates my current work from others' work in the same space. (Along with finding new references for things that probably should have references, etc....Suffice it to say that the past few days I've been scouring the web and various library databases and doing lots of reading. Fun stuff when you have the time to do it!) This careful rereading (OK, reskimming) of these papers has led me to pick up on stuff I missed the first (or second) time reading (OK, skimming), which is leading me to new references that I missed before.

In the course of looking up some of these new-to-me references, I've made a startling discovery: Some of the most interesting related work has been done in an entirely different subfield, one that I hadn't thought of looking at before for this particular work. The *very* interesting part is that this particular subfield is one that I've had a growing interest in, and have started taking baby steps to follow, over the past year or so!

This whole experience shows how quickly we can develop "tunnel vision", especially in how we scope and classify our work as computer scientists. I've realized for a while that my work straddles several areas, but I've sort of narrowly defined what those areas are, based on my own background and training, not even dreaming that there might be other, and perhaps better-suited, connections too. And the work I'm finding has been around for a while. Part of me wonders: if I had known about the connection of my work to this other subfield before, would that have changed the scope or flavor of my research at all?

4 comments:

John Dupuis said...

Hi Jane, you should also try checking out other papers that cite you. Lots of databases do that sort of thing now, CiteSeer, Google Scholar you probably know, but Web of Science is a good interdisciplinary database that a lot of people forget abouthplreh. You might find some interesting connections there too.

Jane said...

Ah, good idea! Thanks, John!

CogSci Librarian said...

As a librarian, I love finding out how users (i.e., faculty, grad students, etc.) are, well, using library resources. A lot my grad students lately have been talking about how they are finding more -- relevant! -- resources outside their own field of study, and even outside the country.

Web of Science is excellent for this, as is Scopus. John's advice is terrific too.

Jane said...

I'll try those sources out too, cogsci librarian. Thanks for the tip!