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Method for literature review

Quote From escard:

Hello everyone

I am just new here and started my PhD recently about fault tolerant control. I am really concerned about the method I can take for doing literature review. As I read through each paper, I normally wrote down some dot points about its relevance to my topic and the actual concept discussed. But when the number of papers getting large, I feel it is hard to remember the content I have read. Would you care to share your experience and methods during this stage?

Also, at this stage, if you come across some papers that you just don't understand its mathematical proves but have a brief understanding of the concept, would you try to study it until you understand entirely or you can leave it for later stages? Is it possible to ask your supervisor? I know as PhD student, we suppose to do quit a bit self study, I am just wondering what kind of questions should we ask and what sort questions we should find out by our own?

Thanks for your reply in advance.

Hi Escard,

I'm not sure I understand the part about remembering paper's content...I have your very same approach to literature and think the whole idea about writing down dot points is that so you do NOT have to memorize all content :)

Concerning the second part, I would suggest you look for main concepts to begin with, the M&M sections are important in later stages (well, unless you are a statistician/mathematician and/or your work is of methodological nature).

What you can ask to your sup is of course highly dependent on you, him and what relationship you have. Personally, I think a good supervisor should be able and willing to accept all kind of questions if they matter to the students.

Publishing undergraduate work

Quote From blueberry:

======= Date Modified 18 Sep 2011 14:20:38 =======
Hello, I was looking for some opinions here from other postdocs. I have a job at a teaching led university that wants to be more research active. They employed me as a research assistant (I am on the brink of submitting my PhD). My brief was to add to the evidence base of the field I work in. However, there seems to be a general belief among staff in the department that I should be taking undergraduate dissertations (maninly students I have never met, supervised, etc) and essays/reports and write them up for publication in peer-reviewed journals. I am unhappy to do this as a) the quality is not very good b) I think it is unethical to put my name on stuff I have had nothing to do with and c) if I don';t put my name on I am just a ghost writer (I have not trained as a scientist to end up as a ghost writer of undergrad publications). How common is it for researchers to find themselves in this position?

Where I work it often happens that undergrads theses produce publishable results. However, if the student doesn't have the skills (or the interest) to actually lead a publication, it is not uncommon that a supervisor (usually a PhD or post-doc, rarely a senior) takes on the job.


a) the person who will then lead the publication has generally been involved in the study all along (e.g. a PhD student who acted as co-supervisor for the undergrad), and

b) the student would always be listed as an author (first or middle, depending on how his/her contribution to the final paper).

I think what you have been suggested could be a good idea, as long as the undergraduate is involved in the paper preparation and all involved are listed as authors.

Paper Publication Strategy...

The time issue is very important. For applications purposes, it is better a paper published in a lesser rank journal, than one submitted in a top one.

Besides, in terms of future citations of your work, I find other factors (presentation at conferences, collaborations, personal networks, etc.) much more important than just a journal impact factor. Imho as long as a journal has a decent reputation and proper indexing, it is not crucial if they are not top in their category.

First time publishers/daters

Quote From Rina:

Right, I don't know why, but I feel like drawing some comparisons with dating here, a bit cheesy, so, apologies. I have this feeling about publishing an article for the first time - it's like the first kiss or first love... anyway, you get the picture - one wants to make it right.  So, imagine, there is someone really attractive you fancy with a bitter sweet feeling inside that they are too much for you and mean trouble, but you cannot resist their looks and fall for them with all corresponding consequences - either upfront or eventual rejection, hurt feelings, damaged self-esteem, etc. Similarly, there is this journal I sort of fancy for the first time publication with an impact factor over 2 and something...and it's like with that good looking someone...I have a feeling of trouble...should I still dare?


Nice analogy Rina but I suggest you stop seeing it this way at once!

Of course put care in doing your best scientifically but just aim at getting your work published. At this stage at your (our) career it's really what matters most.

Go for the journal you fancy, but by any means if you get rejected it's not the end of the world. Everybody gets rejected from journal sooner or later. It's not worth killing yourself over, and the peer review system is flawed anyway.

Sup messing with my timetable

In general I am in control of my schedule. If my sup asks me to do some extra stuff I did not plan, it's usually minor stuff that don't take much time.

In your situation, I would first consider whether "the bits and pieces" in any way could fit within your general thesis work. If not at all, I think you should from time to time stand up to your sup, using the solid argument that you can't exceed the deadline on your side.

But obviously a lot depends on the relationship between you and your sup on a personal level.