When one examines a new problem, it is important to explore the relevant literature. The literature may span books, journals, conference proceedings and even research fields (such as mathematics, economics, computer science). So what is the best way to get a good and quick overview of the relevant known results?
- Find the relevant recent survey paper. A survey paper best meets the goals for a quick literature over-review. It not only gives an overview of the known research but also provides a window into the literature by giving all the relevant references. The more recent the survey paper, the better.
- Look at a recent relevant well written journal paper: High quality journal papers generally are better written and more comprehensive. Even if is such a paper is not a survey paper, it will provide a good summary and references of the relevant literature.
- Recent relevant PhD thesis: A recent relevant PhD may be even more comprehensive and provide a good research overview.
- Look at papers which cite the classic: There are certain seminal classic papers related to the research problem. In order to collect the relevant literature, it can be helpful to check papers which cite this most relevant classic seminal paper. This can now be easily done via scholar.google.com.
- Ask the expert: Good references can be suggested by expert in the field. Experts have already done the exploration and are in a better position to suggest the useful references. This can save a lot of time.
- Prolific researchers: There are certain researchers who may have been working on variants of the research problem for more than a few years. It may be a good idea to examine their list of publication to get a better idea of what progress has been made.