Last week I mentioned the problems of keeping up with the ever growing scientific literature and just how many papers and books there are now readily available. As an illustration of this, here is my bookcase at the IVPP. As you can see, it’s really very full with both books, scientific volumes and monographs and stacks of papers. Standing on top is set of boxfiles of various papers and there are several more sets like this sat on my desk right now for the projects I’m working on. Added to that is all the stuff I didn’t bring to China (another half dozen boxfiles) and my PDF collection (which currently stands just shy of 3000 files, some of which themselves are whole books). In short there is a lot of science out there!
Don’t forget that this collection is just what I have accumulated in around 10 since I first finished my batchelors degree and I only started my PhD in 2002. A great many researchers have entire rooms filled with books and papers and anyone who has stumbled into a science library will know just how much literature there is. Is it then surprising that even those of us with very narrow research interests have not actually read everything on the subject. I’ve not actually read a significant fraction of this collection (for obvious reasons, even averaging a page every 2 minutes, going 24 hours a day at a rough calculation means there is well over three months worth of reading there!) but the information is there and accessible which is the main thing. Even this of course does not take into account what I *don’t* have, I estimate I have only about 1 in 20 of every pterosaur paper ever published in my collections somewhere which is not great when you think about it. In short, the scientific literature is huge.
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