The value of reading the literature

Probably the most common thing for fellow researchers to ask me about my blog is, “How do you have time?”

In a new post, the Drugmonkey “Reading the literature and writing”

I think a lot of scientists really don’t like to read deeply into the literature. At best, perhaps they weren’t ever trained to read deeply.
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So I’m not talking about reading the literature in a “keep up with the latest TOCs for all the relevant journals” kind of way. I’m talking about focused reading when you want to answer a question for yourself and to put it into some sort of scholarly setting, like a Discussion.

For me, blogging is part of how I engage with the literature in my field. I take notes, I cite sources, and I look into the way that people have developed their ideas. When it makes sense, I share that with others. And I am much more likely to think deeply when I am thinking about how to convey something for other people.

I do get the feeling that this kind of deep reading and engagement is actually quite rare, and that many researchers have a more tactical approach to reading. “Tactical” just means that people try to maximize their short-term benefits from reading and writing. I think it’s better to be strategic in professional reading, and sometimes that means reading with deep engagement.