OK, kids, we really are living in the age of information, and this is an absolutely fabulous thing for science! Virtually at your fingertips are datasets, publications, informed opinion-pieces, reams of information collected by smart devices, videos of experts sharing their wisdom, and more. It’s a smorgasbord of inputs that can really give a leg-up to your contribution to making the world a better place, and you must avail yourself of this wealth to some degree.
But you have to be careful not to drown. There is so much, so accessible. Attempting to keep up with it all can be overwhelming, and in the end, non-productive. You’ve got to surf on top of the information, dipping in when purposeful. It is absolutely essential that you have an active plan to curate the information onslaught.
Make use of technical tools. Be attuned to automated literature searches, effective use of social media, and improving your literature searching skills. This is a changing world and you are ready to participate. Determine your own style, to include whether you prefer to go to the information, or have information come to you. Be real about whether you are keeping up, or piling up (for later perusal), and alter your methods until they are truly working.
Seek people to help. Your advisor may recommend an advocacy organization that puts out helpful content or a media aggregator to skim. A colleague may share information on pre-publication repositories. But don’t forget the people who are trained to navigate this world – librarians. Indeed, there are individuals who have spent years knowing how to find and sift information and they likely will provide individualized consultation to you, free of charge. And remember that you don’t have to know it all, yourself. You are participating in a community of science where the knowledge is held in aggregate.
Participate in the age of information, by aligning and curating the stream that you swim in, until it maximizes your ability to make the world a better place.