Why scientists should do scientific monitoring and not state of the art.

I am a scientist. I do science and I love it.

But I am not the only one, and competition is tough. The famous “publish or perish” is today more than a reality. My daily job consists in supervising a lab and its experiments, managing the students, filling administrative paperwork, writing new papers…. And reading the papers that are out. But with more than 3.000 published papers every day, it’s impossible to find the ones that are interesting to me. So, I don’t.

Too much time consuming, too much information to process: it’s like finding a needle in a haystack.

Wait, but I did subscribe to email digests from my classical journals or from Google Scholar. Ok then I receive every Friday (just before the weekend) couple of emails with tons of new papers inside. I still must go through them, receive thousands of emails per day, and I don’t have time to read them. Furthermore, the papers are not relevant to me…

So how do I find new papers?

I’ll go online. The first thing that I’ll do is to open Google but I’ll get plenty of non-scientific papers. So, I’ll go to PubMed, ISI web of knowledge, Scopus and all the others. And I’ll find a lot of results. I’ll type a request (e.g. “Alzheimer’s disease treatment”) and I’ll got 47.986 papers with a published date that go from couple of weeks earlier down to 1950.

But worst: I’ll receive an email from one of my colleague with a paper from one of my competitor that is one month old and jeopardize a part of my research.

Damned it! Why wasn’t I aware of it before? How can I know about the latest published papers from my field without wasting time?

What I am looking for is a paper tracker. And the online websites I was using until then are designed to do a state of the art. The difference matters because state of the art is when I am looking for all the papers of a given field, (which is great when I want to get an overview of what was done and where the field is going, typically for grant writing for a new project). On the contrary, paper tracking is when I want to get the latest advances in a specific research field. And now with all the tech, I don’t want to lose time and I want the information to come right at me….

That’s why it’s time for scientists to use a paper tracker app.

The idea is to get a glance at the latest published papers without the need to configure, to browse all the papers and to be effective at it. The idea is to get off this pull mode and go into push mode. It’s the same concept as with your mailbox: you don’t check it anymore, they popup automatically on your devices.

The idea behind paper monitor is to read the latest published papers in your field every morning while getting your coffee. That’s why I came up with the idea of Peerus.

With paper tracker tools, now I am the one sending papers to my group or to colleagues telling them this is interesting for them. And they are amazed by the efficiency of this system. Seriously fellows, start doing paper tracker and not state of the art to be effective.