366 papers in 2016; looking back on a paper a day

In 2015 at the end of the year myself and a few others though it would be a good idea to read a scientific paper a day in 2016. So on the 1st of Jan 2016 I began this challenge, using the tag #366papers on twitter & listing each paper here on my website. Here are so pros, cons and my thoughts on this challenge:

Pros:

  • You get better at reading scientific papers and digesting them quickly
  • It is interesting, especially if you read widely (which I recommend)
  • It’s a neat challenge if you’re a scientist

Cons:

  • Starts to feel like a chore
  • A paper a day doesn’t leave a lot of time to really understand a paper in depth
  • Some days you want to read 5 papers and others you want to read 0, but that defeats the point of the exercise (I did this anyway)

All in all I wouldn’t do it again & I didn’t even do it properly this time. But I did read 366 papers (more really, but I didn’t list them all). As I was writing my thesis for a large chunk of the year it wasn’t that difficult to hit 366, however some days I just didn’t want to read a paper. I didn’t want to make reading papers feel like something I HAD to do, making it feel like a task, so I didn’t.

In retrospect I think 52 papers a year would be a better better goal. This gives you time to really understand the paper & means you don’t actually have to read one a day, which is not fun on holidays and weekends, or when you’re just flat out. So if you’re thinking of doing a similar challenge in 2017, perhaps think about cutting back to 1 paper a week….. Or try 1 a day, whatever suits you!

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