Finding and reading papers

Understanding what others have done is critical to being able to identify problems, improve how you solve problems, and communicate how your solutions relate to what has been done before. Here are a few sites that facilitate finding both published and not (yet) published academic papers. Additionally, many researchers link to their published papers off of their website.

  • Google Scholar: Search tailored to academic papers. To search for a particular author, use author:"Author Name"
  • arXiv (pronounced "archive"): Many researchers post preprints (not yet published papers) here.
  • CiteSeer: Another site for searching for papers; in general, I find Google Scholar to offer better search capabilities, but CiteSeer also caches papers, so it is often the easiest way to find a copy of a paper.
  • ACM Digital Library: Often the official location for papers published at ACM conferences. Papers are freely available when accessed from the campus network, but not necessarily otherwise. Fortunately, there are usually other sites (e.g., the authors' websites) that have free PDFs.

General advice

There are many helpful pieces of advice out there; here are a few that ring true with me.

Above all, though, seek advice in person: from your classmates, your professors, your friends and family members... Be open to others' advice, seek it out. Just remember that advice is not command: incorporate the advice you receive into your own unique perspective, and share it to help shape others'.

Typesetting documents

Most researchers write their papers using LaTeX. Getting to know this tool will make it easier to jump right into working with a research group. Here are some resources to help you learn and master LaTeX.