“Searching smartly is often more effective than going down the citation trail”
I’d love more detail / clarification on this if you’re happy to share? I think I pretty much exclusively go down the citation trail.
Relatedly, what’s the benefit of having “a pile of papers ready to look at” before you start reading them?
Unless you’re trying to be systematic and comprehensive (in which case you might as wel gather them all first), it seems to me that reading through papers as you go helps you realise if you need to adjust your search terms or add new ones, or if you’re just hitting diminishing returns on the review generally.
I pretty much just Google Scholar search and start reading the first item that comes up.
Yeah, maybe I should change some text… but I guess I have assumption built in that when finding papers which seem relevant you’d be reading the abstract, getting a basic idea of what they’re about, and then adjusting search terms.
The reason having a pile of papers is useful is because the value of papers is extremely uneven for any given question and by having a pile you get a better feel for the range of what people say about a topic before diving into one perspective. Wrt the first point I’d argue that in most cases there are one or two papers which would be perfect for getting an overview. Reading those might be 100x more valuable than reading something which is just kind of related (what you are likely to find on the first search). If that’s true it’s clearly worth spending a lot of time looking around for the perfect paper rather than jumping into the first one you find. Obviously this can be overdone but I expect most people err toward too little search. Note that you might also find the perfect paper by skimming through an imperfect one. I tend to see this as another way of searching as you can look for that without actually ‘reading’ the paper, just by skimming through their lit review or intro.