January 1, 2017

A new year – will you add #365papers to your resolutions?

Posted by Laura Guertin

Seems like everyone makes a New Year’s resolution, whether it be to achieve personal and/or professional goals. I blogged last year on 2016 New Year’s Resolution – Suggestions for Faculty, and two years ago on Spending some time unplugged – a New Year’s Resolution, perhaps?. This year, I’m going to share a theme that seems to make an appearance every year – the idea of reading one paper a day for the year.

In December 2015, Jacquelyn Gill and Meghan Duffy both blogged about their efforts to read a paper a day during that year. Anne Jefferson and Joshua Drew both provided a detailed analysis of not only how many papers each read but what they read, who wrote the papers and when, etc.

Not everyone had a successful year of #365papers in 2015 or 2016.

This frustration of not being able to keep up with this “resolution” was echoed by many, causing some to suggest modifications for the target number of papers to read for this upcoming year.

Blogger Alex Bond has stated that he is going for #230papers in 2016, allowing himself weekends and holidays. Certainly “365” doesn’t have to be the magic number everyone aims for. There will always be valid reasons we don’t achieve our resolutions (an intense field season, high service load, large number of undergraduate/graduate researchers, family/health emergencies, etc.). As all of these bloggers state, the idea is not to get so frustrated and disappointed if you fall behind that you stop reading papers. It also cannot reach the point where it gets to be a “chore” and that you do not look forward to reading a paper a day. The point is to engage in thoughtful reading of papers to increase our connection to the discipline, to be up-to-speed on recent results being disseminated, and to expand our knowledge beyond our own training.

In 2016, I took on the #365scienceselfies challenge, which was one photo a day in my life as a scientist. There were days and times where I just couldn’t come up with a good photo, or it was the end of the day and I forgot that I still needed to take/post a photo, etc. There were times when taking a photo a day was a burden, so I know that setting a goal for reading an entire paper a day will not have a happy ending for me. Knowing my service load on campus and my commitment to write book chapters during this calendar year, I’m going for the #52papers resolution. I may keep a Google Spreadsheet as Auriel Fournier did to keep myself honest and on track – but perhaps generate an annotation for each paper to remind myself of the important takeaways of the paper – and think about a way to share my new knowledge with others. Hmmm…

Whatever your New Year’s Resolution, may we all have success as we work towards these goals!