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.
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.