Being forensic

It may seem odd to use the word forensic but imagining yourself as a detective, and trying to solve the crime, aka the paper, book chapter and so on, is a useful way to approach the finished products of research.

Research outputs that are published are written by people. These people have a history.1 You can trace some of the history fairly easily now using Google Scholar.

So let's say you have found a paper of interest. You can put the title of the paper2 into Google Scholar and do a search. Depending upon whether or not the author, or one of the authors have made their Google Scholar profile public you can see what other papers are citing this publication, how often it has been cited and the citation patterns over time. There is a lot of information you now have to help you think in and around not just the paper but the papers and people associated with the theme you are exploring.

Many academics these days will maintain a web page3 Here you will find other clues about the researchers interests, their backgrounds and so on. You may see patterns of collaboration with other authors. You may get a better sense of why the author is involved in the work. She or he may be associated with a centre whose focus relates to your area of interest.

The best way to get a sense of all of this is to try it out. And, nag, nag, keep recording your explorations, the rabbit holes you go down, in your 1st notebook.

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