As you may know a key element to research is keeping up to date with the literature. At the moment I have a huge pile of research papers on a whole range of topics that relate to my PhD project and I have only made a small dent in it. Sometimes however the last thing you want to do is read so I have tried to think of a few things I do to make it easier…
When trying to get a quick feel for the given topic I read through the titles and abstracts to see how varied the research is but when I really need to know the details I will dig a little deeper for the specifics. I always make notes on the papers as I’m reading and thinking and then I collate the notes and start to form valid ideas which I know have been well researched. It’s handy to know where the data comes from so I usually keep the first authors name in brackets beside anything I gather. Perhaps even having an ‘Ideas from Reading’ notebook to put everything in and keep track of would be helpful.
It is important also to make sure that you do a Pubmed search every now and then to keep up with new work and assess how the research is developing. This will help you scope out any new research that may be relevant to your work and may help you take some steps forward. Also try to dip into other areas of science as you may make a surprising discovery that you can apply to your own research.
My biggest tip for reading is: turn off your laptop/computer, turn off your TV and radio, make a cup of tea, eat a biscuit and sit down to read. Make sure you are in the right mindset to read without distractions or anything else on your mind so you can give your full attention to the work in front of you. Good luck everyone, I am aiming for 3 papers read in full a week- lets see if I can do it!!!