Thursday, 29 November 2012

Obscure references

One of my PhD students (Hi, Chris!) is absolutely brilliant at finding obscure papers relevant to his research.  In our recent paper, there are references to journals that I'm sure I haven't referenced before, mostly to do with numerical and computational methods.

Now, he's found a two-page paper on nuclear theory written by a certain G. F. Nash, from 1972, with an affiliation of the North West Kent College of Technology, Dartford.  I hadn't even realised that the place existed (it still does), nor that there was once someone there who published academic papers in theoretical nuclear physics.  According to ISI, the paper has never been cited since its publication in 1972.  The journal, at least, is not so unfamiliar to me, it being the Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, not least because of the classic paper by Crank and Nicolson published there.

I certainly look forward to seeing the bibliography in Chris's thesis, when it's done.


  1. Actually sometimes finding obscure references is incredibly useful. One problem with the field which I work in is finding *good* references for things like noise sources. The current trend seems to be that review articles are referenced (which often skip important and salient details).

    On closer inspection, said review articles reference... more review articles. Which reference... care to guess?

    This trend continues for *over a decade*, occasionally with the review's only references about noise being to reviews written by the *same* author in the *same* journal a few years earlier. I have even seen examples where the diagrams are copied wholesale over a period of years.

    Invariably, the trail of reviews ends with a small handful of papers published in the early 1960s - of which only two authors are dominant (they were apparently also colleagues).

    I normally want at least two good references when I talk about something, but it's proving genuinely tough to find any alternative to the review articles.

    1. I agree that they can be useful, and I'm glad Chris has found them. I guess this totally un-cited article has not been found by too many people before.