Surveying the Literature

Usually before you begin a project, or when you are preparing the related work section for a paper or a thesis, or when you are looking for a tool that you need in your research, you have to search the literature to find out what other people have already done in the area. Jordan Pollack once put it succintly: "Reading is fundamental."

Searching the web

Literature search used to be a major effort, and include abstract indices and databases, and librarians specializing in specific disciplines. However, these days almost all literature is available on the web, and simply googling with some good keywords is a good start. However there are tools like Google Scholar that makes it possible to not only find papers, but e.g. other papers by the same author, and papers that cite a given paper. You should become familiar with such tools and take advantage of them.

Following the Refs and Authors

Indeed, often the best way way is to follow the reference list of those papers that you liked. Once you look those up, you'll find more references, etc. When you really get into a specific topic and like someone's work in particular, you should look up their web page for the latest papers, and perhaps send them email directly and ask for references to their latest work.

Accessing Papers

Most papers are available online---if not the latest published version, at least an earlier manuscript version in servers such as arXiv. However, sometime you come across a paper that is behind the publisher's paywall. Fortunately UT Libraries has subscriptions with most publishers, and there's a way to access them through the library: simply add "" at the end of the server url (e.g. if your article page has a URL, then you can access it through You have to login through your EID to access this service.
Last modified: Sun Sep 25 15:31:58 PDT 2022