Top 10 ways to stay on top of research developments in your field
1. Join a professional society. Actually read their newsletters, e-mails, and updates.
2. Set alerts (Google alerts, etc.).
3. Look deeper than the headlines- if you read a popular article, go back to the peer-reviewed source. Does the headline actually match the article conclusion?
4. Ask questions of people in your field.
5. Ask questions of people NOT in your field. Maybe those far outside of your field won’t be providing an Ivy League education on developments in your field, but talking to people who are far removed from what you do can actually give you a great feel for what the general public thinks about an issue, or the kind of information (or mis-information) that’s out there on a particular topic. For example, at one point in my career, I was involved in nanotechnology research. During a plane ride on my way to a conference, the passenger next to me struck up a conversation. I mentioned my involvement in nanotechnology research, and to my surprise, the topic not only took off, but I had a hard time getting a word in edgewise. This person detailed for me the risks of nanobots that could be injected into our bodies, hijack us from the inside, and take over the world. Never mind that this was actually the plot of a (fictional) book on the market, the point was that someone who’s not in that field may or may not be equipped to evaluate the validity of all the information reaching them on that topic. And you never know what tidbits of information are reaching the public (hint: it’s probably not your press releases).
6. Seek training. Options: Coursera and other open coursework websites, Curious.com, etc.
7. Free webinars.
8. Get to know your vendors. Yes, it’s their job to sell you products, but it’s also their job to educate you on why you might “need” the newest products in your field, and often they can summarize the advantages and disadvantages of a new product more succinctly than a product brochure.
9. Travel, if you can! Conferences are not only hotbeds of the latest research, but they can often be rich sources of potential customers, vendors, collaborators, and other contacts.
10. Last but not least, read the literature. No, I’m not talking about War and Peace. I’m talking about the authentic, nitty gritty, peer-reviewed literature out there on your topic of interest. Is it fun? No. But sometimes it makes all the difference.
How do you stay on top of research developments in your field?
Erica Bakota is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.