Meg’s recent post on #365papers inspired lots of questions and comments (and other blog posts). It led into questions about what kind of papers, how to read them (skim vs in detail), how to choose them, etc. But it led me to wonder if there was a consensus opinion on the even more basic question of how much time we should be spending on reading papers (and scholarly books such as monographs or others aimed at graduate students and above)?
This is in many ways a core question. It gets at how important is our role in tying our work to the literature and work of others vs just doing new science.
First a few caveats (feel free to skip straight to the poll if you’re not the type who wants all your terms carefully defined first!).
I think this question could easily vary by career stage. And also by which industry one is involved in and perhaps by which subdiscipline of ecology (do theoreticians read more or less) so I’ve asked those questions in the survey. There are a lot of flavors of “established researcher” so I’ve tried to capture a few key dimensions. Just answer the question assuming the established researcher is like your current job (or what you hope your future job will be like).
I wanted to keep this real world (in a perfect world I would spend 30 hours a week reading literature!), so I didn’t want to ask the question as “would like to spend reading”. Probably the best phrasing is something like “how much time would you like to spend reading assuming you have to balance it with all your other responsibilities and time commitments and assuming you are able to allocate your given time optimally?”. But I have left the word “should” in the questions for brevity and simplicity. Should in this case is definitely not a moral judgement or a form of peer pressure. Its intended to get back to the core question of where you say reading literature ranks in your universe of priorities.
I have also left out the questions of what and how you read. Some of you may spend your X hours mostly skimming and some spend the same X hours deeply reading one paper. I’m asking this mostly to get a sense of priority to reading literature vs other tasks so count all forms of reading literature.
So what do you think?
I’m not going to express my own opinions yet to avoid contaminating the survey. I will add my thoughts in a day or two in the comments. In the meantime, here are a few of Jeremy’s thoughts. But I would be really curious to hear other peoples thoughts, elaborations and explanations in the comments.
UPDATE – poll answers are in the comments below