How to stay on top of trends and findings in your field.

Keeping up with the literature and current issues is challenging. But thanks to different tools you can make this an easier task. The best tool in my experience is Google Scholar ( If you don’t have a profile yet, make one today. You can use it to follow colleagues’ publications, track citations of seminal papers, and get recommendations based on your usage or core papers in your field.

If you are interested in the output of a certain lab and they are not active on google scholar, you can use tools like to track their publications. This obviously only works for labs that have a frequently updated website.

Twitter is an amazing tool to stay up to date with current discussions and topics in your field. It takes a while until you figure out whom to follow, but it’s worth the investment.

Another useful tool to find older but still important papers is Mendeley. Technically this is a citation manager and library tool, but you get recommendations based on the articles in your library. Most of the time I find them very useful.

Journal updates are useful but should be limited to a few journals. The maximum of what I find manageable is 3. I follow Brain and Language, Behavioural and Brain Sciences, and Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews. I only scan the headlines when the articles come in and decide if and what i will read in detail.

Researchgate can be useful if a lab is very active, but most of the time it is only selectively helpful to keep in touch/utd with a certain group. These ~10people I interact with on Researchgate only are the single reason why I still have my profile there.

Search alerts for journal databases like PubMed ( or Web of Science ( can be great tools if you figure out good search  terms and restrictions. I have not succeeded with this, but I found this blog with seemingly useful recommendations: There are also tools like Pubcrawler or Pub-Chase (which I will certainly try out next because it looks great!).

The most important thing is to get 2 types of reading integrated into you academic life:

  1. Quick scanning of the newest output and deciding what  to read (should be done weekly at least).
  2. Extensive reading and broader researches for articles.

More details and tips in the video:


Published by

Dr Franziska Hartung

Cognitive neuroscientist researching how brains create meaning.

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