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academic journal blues

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academic journal blues [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2007, 07:44
So I am trying to be as productive as possible until I start my masters. To that end, I've been skimming the academic literature. I just go to JSTOR and type in a couple of keywords relating to some topics that i think might interest me as well as some ancillary stuff related to them and just plug away. Nothing terribly focused... just seeing whats out there.

I have a goal of three-four articles a week... I figure by next fall I that equals about 150 articles... which puts me in a pretty good spot compared to most of my peers in whatever MS program I end up in. My problem is that it is hard to get a handle on what they are talking about in some of these articles (that is to be expected at this stage sure).

I'm not worried about not understanding aspects of the experimental design or data analysis at this stage, but sometimes when they are talking about a theory I dont understand etc I don't know if I should just skim the article first, and pull out all the author's citations first and read those articles first (so I have a better idea of what is going on in the original article)... or just plug away and ignore the stuff i don't understand yet so I can move on to another topic. The first approach means I'd spend the next year probably focused on really getting to the bottom of 6 or 7 articles, the latter approach means I'd be exposed to a lot more of whats out there, but understand it all less.

I am trying to get a feel for what I might want to research as well as what Professors I would want as advisors... so keep in mind I am reading up on 5 or 6 very broad topics within marketing (public policy/legal enviornmental/sustainable, ethics, cognition) I am not writing a thesis.
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2007, 15:27
Look for the articles that have the most citations: I think this is a good proxy for impact, applicability, etc...

Also, don't worry about understanding it in detail: some are just not that easy to fully understand. There is also quite a bit of information that is not explicitly in the paper. For example, faculty in the field may know the motivation and origination of the paper (what ideas were discarded, which were added and why, etc...).
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2007, 16:40
This is impressive. Reading papers can be intimidating at this stage, but it is an useful exercise.

More than the research, it is the style , the methodology and the assumptions that should be the major focus of your readings. You will understand the nuances over time.

Depending on the journal, it can take anywhere between 3 months to 3 years for a publication. So, to keep up with the latest work, you may consider complementing your journal reading activity by reading through dissertations. Ideally, these should be dissertations that are supervised by people who you want to work with.

Dissertations are expansive. Any well written dissertation will display a mastery of existing literature and will explain the nuances of their models very well.

Finally, if you are interested in a subject, the best way to learn more about its nuances is to write an article on it. The idea is not so much a publication as the (ideally, frustrating) voyage of discovery that will help you grow as a researcher.

I hope this helps.
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2007, 18:20
bauble wrote:
Look for the articles that have the most citations: I think this is a good proxy for impact, applicability, etc...

Also, don't worry about understanding it in detail: some are just not that easy to fully understand.


bauble -

is it just me or are some of these people just bad writers -- difficult subject matter aside -- I think some of these folks could use a dose of GMAT Verbal clarity/conciseness

anyway - is there an easy way to see what the most cited articles are?
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2007, 19:03
Quote:
This is impressive. Reading papers can be intimidating at this stage, but it is an useful exercise.


Praet -

what is impressive -- me reading 3 - 4 articles a week? I figure it is just a taste of what is to come. What I worry about is that I have ZERO time for reading for pleasure anymore... and truth be told I haven't read a book recreationally in a LONG time. Also, the amount of time spent watching TV and playing XboX 360 is approaching zero... not that this is a bad thing !!! just that sometimes you feel like you are losing touch

Quote:
More than the research, it is the style , the methodology and the assumptions that should be the major focus of your readings. You will understand the nuances over time.


this is what bothers me the most. i've read some articles where i feel the authors are assuming *way* too much or simplifying something too much. especially on the cognitive side of marketing research. maybe this is just a function of the need for simplicity when developing a model of behavior... maybe it is a function of me not understanding all of the psychological background info which would might give their assumption more validity.

Quote:
Depending on the journal, it can take anywhere between 3 months to 3 years for a publication. So, to keep up with the latest work, you may consider complementing your journal reading activity by reading through dissertations. Ideally, these should be dissertations that are supervised by people who you want to work with.

Dissertations are expansive. Any well written dissertation will display a mastery of existing literature and will explain the nuances of their models very well.


I never thought of reading other's dissertations because they would explain things better, but it makes sense. i've found a superstar in my field at the university of michigan, but his CV doesn't list any dissertations that he has supervised. can you search by advisor?
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 [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2007, 21:18
Quote:
anonymousegmat wrote:
Quote:
This is impressive. Reading papers can be intimidating at this stage, but it is an useful exercise.


Praet -

what is impressive -- me reading 3 - 4 articles a week? I figure it is just a taste of what is to come. What I worry about is that I have ZERO time for reading for pleasure anymore... and truth be told I haven't read a book recreationally in a LONG time. Also, the amount of time spent watching TV and playing XboX 360 is approaching zero... not that this is a bad thing !!! just that sometimes you feel like you are losing touch


Yes, it is impressive that you are taking this seriously so early.

Rather than forcing yourself to pick a topic, explore, explore and explore. Keep all your options about topic open. Finding the right person to work with is far more important than understanding journal articles. Not trying to discourage you, just trying to help you keep things in perspective. Reputation means a lot in academia.

Please do not stress over this too much. Save your energies for the PhD program. Speaking of losing touch, read the PhD lifestyles thread for more info :-)

Quote:
Quote:
More than the research, it is the style , the methodology and the assumptions that should be the major focus of your readings. You will understand the nuances over time.


this is what bothers me the most. i've read some articles where i feel the authors are assuming *way* too much or simplifying something too much. especially on the cognitive side of marketing research. maybe this is just a function of the need for simplicity when developing a model of behavior... maybe it is a function of me not understanding all of the psychological background info which would might give their assumption more validity.


Thats probably true. It takes a deeper understanding of the mathematical model to appreciate the need for assumptions for modeling real world problems. Obviously, a good researcher will not attempt to simplify the model without showing that there is a need for it.

That said, I am not saying that every article ever published should have been published. Some reviewers may be able to live with the assumption you make, others may find that same unacceptable. Welcome to publishing!

If you can show that your assumptions do not bias your results or make the results very situational , then you should be fine. Obviously, all models are abstractions of reality. We have to find that middle ground that includes the right degree of complexity without losing too much generality.

Most of the times, some assumptions get institutionalized. So the logic goes "We assume KLM. This is a fairly common assumption -- See XYZ (1999), ABC ( 2001) and PQR(2004)."

Quote:
I never thought of reading other's dissertations because they would explain things better, but it makes sense. i've found a superstar in my field at the university of michigan, but his CV doesn't list any dissertations that he has supervised. can you search by advisor?


Dissertations are always a good source to understand something in context. Journal articles are narrower in scope and assume a higher level of familiarity and expertise.

He must have a list of publications available. That might be a good place to start. Also, you might try contacting the current PhD students. They might be able to help.
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2007, 05:12
Quote:
anyway - is there an easy way to see what the most cited articles are?


Good question. Google scholar (scholar.google.com) tends to put more heavily cited articles first in its search results. You can also download a scholar gadget that ranks citations for papers published by a given author. EBSCO (my default database) will list citations, but it won't sort or search by citation count (if it does, I haven't seen it).
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2007, 11:21
Praetorian wrote:
Quote:

He must have a list of publications available. That might be a good place to start. Also, you might try contacting the current PhD students. They might be able to help.


I looked through his whole CV twice (which was no easy task -- it was over 30 pages long) and no mention of any dissertation supervision...

I feel kind of scared to email him and ask...
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2007, 11:56
bauble wrote:
Quote:
anyway - is there an easy way to see what the most cited articles are?


Good question. Google scholar (scholar.google.com) tends to put more heavily cited articles first in its search results. You can also download a scholar gadget that ranks citations for papers published by a given author. EBSCO (my default database) will list citations, but it won't sort or search by citation count (if it does, I haven't seen it).


very cool. so is it safe to say 100+ citations = important and relevant article
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2007, 17:27
bauble wrote:
Quote:
anyway - is there an easy way to see what the most cited articles are?


Good question. Google scholar (scholar.google.com) tends to put more heavily cited articles first in its search results. You can also download a scholar gadget that ranks citations for papers published by a given author. EBSCO (my default database) will list citations, but it won't sort or search by citation count (if it does, I haven't seen it).


Good choice. Google Scholar is a blessing.
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2007, 17:29
It will never hurt to send a polite email. There should be a list of current PhD students on the department's website. I would contact them first.

anonymousegmat wrote:
Praetorian wrote:
Quote:

He must have a list of publications available. That might be a good place to start. Also, you might try contacting the current PhD students. They might be able to help.


I looked through his whole CV twice (which was no easy task -- it was over 30 pages long) and no mention of any dissertation supervision...

I feel kind of scared to email him and ask...
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2007, 18:27
Praetorian wrote:
Quote:
this is what bothers me the most. i've read some articles where i feel the authors are assuming *way* too much or simplifying something too much. especially on the cognitive side of marketing research. maybe this is just a function of the need for simplicity when developing a model of behavior... maybe it is a function of me not understanding all of the psychological background info which would might give their assumption more validity.


Thats probably true. It takes a deeper understanding of the mathematical model to appreciate the need for assumptions for modeling real world problems. Obviously, a good researcher will not attempt to simplify the model without showing that there is a need for it.

That said, I am not saying that every article ever published should have been published. Some reviewers may be able to live with the assumption you make, others may find that same unacceptable. Welcome to publishing!

If you can show that your assumptions do not bias your results or make the results very situational , then you should be fine. Obviously, all models are abstractions of reality. We have to find that middle ground that includes the right degree of complexity without losing too much generality.

Most of the times, some assumptions get institutionalized. So the logic goes "We assume KLM. This is a fairly common assumption -- See XYZ (1999), ABC ( 2001) and PQR(2004)."



Just to add on the assumptions debate: It's fairly easy to find unrealistic assumptions in models taken from academic papers, including papers written by top researchers from the field you're interested in. The real question is whether these unrealistic, simplifying assumptions have any impact on the answer to the question the researcher is interested in. Most of the time, their impact is either unclear or most likely minor, and that's why it's not such a big deal, or wasn't enough of a deal to get the article rejected. The idea is that these simplifying assumptions may greatly add to the tractability of the model (ie. the possibility of getting to _any_ solution).

At this point, I'm not sure it's reasonable from you to expect to be good at figuring out the effects of every one of these simplifying assumptions, but you can try. At the very least, 150 is a lot of papers. Good luck!
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2007, 18:34
anonymousegmat wrote:
is it just me or are some of these people just bad writers -- difficult subject matter aside -- I think some of these folks could use a dose of GMAT Verbal clarity/conciseness

anyway - is there an easy way to see what the most cited articles are?


Some of these people ARE bad writers, and in the course of an MS or PhD program you'll probably be exposed to good researchers who are not only bad writers, but also terrible speakers. Keep in mind that for better or worse, in academia the value of your research is primarily driven by what new ideas/evidence you are bringing to the table. While the ability to express those ideas clearly helps, it's not the main thing.

As far as citations go, on http://www.harzing.com/resources.htm, you can download the Publish or Perish software (free), which uses Google Scholar data for all kinds of citation analysis. For example, you can type in an author name and get all of his/her articles with number of citations, or type in a journal name and get the most cited articles. This latter option might be what you're looking for. I think it's a great piece of software.
  [#permalink] 10 Oct 2007, 18:34
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