I need to start learning about a new research topic, I’ve been collecting articles for about a year now. I collected +400 articles, spanning a range of ~40 years.
I haven’t had the time to read them since I was working on finishing a few papers, I’m finished now so I want to get on it.
The question is: should I start from oldest to newest, or from newest to oldest?
I can see some pros and cons in both approaches:
Oldest to newest:
- Pro: it feels right, since that is the way the research actually happened.
- Con: It will take me a lot of time to become acquainted with the latest developments in the field, and I am not able to start working on it until I do.
Newest to oldest:
- Pro: I will quickly develop some knowledge (not in depth though) into the actual state of the field. This allows me to start working, at least on minor things.
- Pro: It will alert me of wrong paths taken previously in the field, so when I find them in the older literature I’ll be already aware.
- Con: It will be considerably more difficult to follow, specially at first, since I’ll be diving into the analysis of the latest developments of an unknown field.
- Con: I’ll necessarily be jumping back to older literature anyway, risking going down the rabbit hole of research.