Updated September 2019
“A few months in the laboratory can save a few hours in the library.” Frank Westheimer
Reading and managing scientific literature is one of the most important skills you need to develop. Scientific literature is the foundation upon which all future work must be built. Climbing to the top of the mountain of literature is a must for PhD students. For Master’s students and undergraduates, you must engage the literature. Reading the literature is a skill, and if you do not develop a commitment to developing that skill then that quality of your science will suffer. In the McEwan lab all project leaders are required to commit to reading the literature and using that literature to bolster your science.
We use Mendeley as the literature management software in the McEwan Lab. There is a lab account that you can sign into. It has a web-based application and a downloadable desktop application including a plug-in. I use the plug-in for some literature work on manuscripts, but the more important thing is that it serves as a repository. LINK
The Salty Seven
Every project leader in the lab should find seven peer-reviewed scientific articles that apply to their project. Use Google Scholar or Web of Science. Then save PDFs of these articles and place them into a folder that you create in Mendeley. These articles are then the basis for your work going forward. Read them carefully. Look at the figures. Look at the literature they are citing. Look at how they are “framing” the project in terms of ideas and concepts. We will review these articles together as your project moves forward.