Here's a simple question for my colleagues, friends and all the academics I know who seem to churn out learned articles all the time. It's one I've never heard discussed and it's probably quite naive, but here goes anyway.
Quite simply, how do you keep up with the volume of critical work produced?
Call it citation anxiety.
I work in literary studies. There are probably a couple of hundred thousand others across the world, most of them writing books and articles. There are probably a couple of thousand writing pieces more or less relevant to my focus (masculinity, Wales, the interwar period), including those producing works of theory. If they each produce one paper a year - at a conservative estimate - which I need to read to make my own output relevant and up to date, how do I find the time?
Whenever I write anything, I worry that it's already been done, or that I've missed something really relevant that my readers all know about. I can narrow the search to particular journals, but there are also publications I'll never hear about, or have access too.
And yet my esteemed colleagues must have a solution to this. They find the time, amongst teaching, and admin and developing new research interests and sleeping, to keep abreast of their fields. How do you find the texts, then decide what not to read, then process it all?
Spill the beans!