My work flow on daily literature

Everyday we should read the latest literature in order to keep up with the scientific discovery. But this can be a daunting task because there are so many literatures to choose from. Here are how I do it, and hopefully it will  provide some inspirtaions to you.

Step 1 - Accumulating phase

First, I open my RSS feed, which is The Old Reader. I have found this quite useful. Right now I have subscribed more than 70 scientific journal, you can get a look in the image below:

All the scientific literature that I have been subscribed

Usually on a normal workday I will have more than 200 new papers, then I will go through them pretty quickly. (In here I'm going to recommend a extremely useful extension in Chrome, which is Vimium, it can let you naviagate the browser in vim style, which means you do not need to leave your keyboard the entire time.)

Step 2 - Processing Phase

When I have found something useful (or interesting), then I will copy the url to this my daily literature page, and you can see all of them in the Daily Literature section. I would also download the fullpaper to Zotero, which I highly recommend that every researcher should get one for managing all their literatures. Zotero also has great extensions, for example, I'm using Roam Research as my go-to note-taking app, so that I have zotero-extension in Roam, then I can reference any literature in my zotero space directly to Roam without the export/import things, which enhances my productivity dramatically (an example is illustarted in below).

The zotero-roam extension search bar, where you can find all your papers quickly

Once you have selected the literature and import it to Roam, it will create something like this:

The structure of my metadata for a specific paper in Roam Research

Then I could use Roam to take notes and connect to other relevant papers.

Step 3: Output Phase

Once I have accumulated all the interesting papers that I have found in a day, then I need to distribute them to two platforms: (1) this website (2) zsxq (a chinese website translated as "knowledge planet").

Copy some paper to this website is relatively easy, just the url and the website will automatically transfer that into a really beautiful looking link, something like this:

Origin of the Overpotential for Oxygen Reduction at a Fuel-Cell Cathode
We present a method for calculating the stability of reaction intermediates of electrochemical processes on the basis of electronic structure calculations. We used that method in combination with detailed density functional calculations to develop a detailed description of the free-energy landscape…

Then I will publish the daily literature.

As for the zsxq website, first I choose all the papers that I have accumulated during the day, then I output them into the ACS export format, then it will give me a list of bibliographies. Then I need to use vim to adjust it a little bit.

Some useful snippets that I use are listed in below (in case it is also helpful for you):

  • get rid of the last character in each line: :%s/.$//
  • get rid of the first number: :%s/(%d*)//
    • In here i did not use /g because that will change all the numbers, but some of them are important, so I only need to change the first one in the line (which is the number label of each paper)
  • add an empty line between all the lines: %s/$/\r/g

After this process, all the literature will be formatted into my desired format, and then I will upload them to zsxq (I'm still trying to figure out how to automate this process, maybe I could write a python script for the submitting, but right now things have to be done manually, which is more relaxing as long as I'm listening to something, like soft jazz.)

There you have it. The three stages of how I process new articles coming up each day. I have used this method for more than 1 year now, and it is really increase my scientific horizon, and I am able to understand more about my specific topic and also the general trends in research.

It's great to read literatures everyday, especially when they are fresh.

I hope you will learn something from this post. I'll see you in the next one.

Take Care! And Be Happy!



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