Navigating academic literature is a central skill we’ll address in this class. These notes are intended to help orient you to the resources available via the CMU Libraries.
There are two main areas of discourse we will consider: robotics research and fine art. Each has their own culture surrounding publication and this page will address them separately.
Note: many library resources will require installation and use of the Carnegie Mellon University VPN on your computer. You may also wish to install Reference Management Software to assist you during searches.
The library staff has assembled several useful guides to searching for literature:
Science makes progress via the ongoing conversation in published academic papers and articles. The peer-reviewed literature aspires to a high standard of accuracy and care and aims to represent the best understanding of a problem and solution at a given point in time. A well-written paper will formulate a novel problem, provide a precisely stated and thoroughly tested solution, and carefully cite the relevant previous work on which it is founded.
The process of citation serves several purposes. It supports a compression of the discussion by assuming familiarity with other works. It also provides accounting for reputation credit, the essential currency of academia. But for our purposes, the most important feature of the citation process is that it connects related work. Papers which garner a large number of citations implicitly describe a body of work defined by those citations. If subsequent authors were careful to cite works pertinent to their own discoveries, then the body of work will encompass meaningful similarity in themes and questions.
Robotics is a relatively young and dynamic field and so results are frequently superseded through the march of understanding and technology improvement. Some papers have stood the test of time better than others. But it is important to recognize that the literature constitutes a conversation in which many papers represent snapshots of ongoing progress shared back and forth.
There are several publication mechanisms we will see:
Technical Reports. Not peer-reviewed, these are frequently university-hosted papers documenting work in progress or preliminary experimental results.
Conference Proceedings. These are peer-reviewed papers accepted for presentation at an annual conference and published in the proceedings. Lots of these are published every year, frequently researchers are only funded for travel if they have an accepted paper, so the incentive is to publish early and often. The lead times are relatively short, papers may be written six months before publication.
Journals. These are peer-reviewed articles published in a periodical journal. These are typically longer and more complete than conference papers and held to a higher standard. It is a common pattern to see a researcher publish several conference papers reporting progress on a line of work which culminates in a journal paper. The lead time can be quite long, as much as several years, especially if the journal organizes themed issues and holds a paper for a specific issue.
Textbooks. Eventually well-established techniques are gathered into book form. Sometimes these are written by a single set of authors, but a common form is a set of chapters on a common theme, each written by different authors. Both the whole volume or individual chapters may be cited in other works.
Theses and Dissertations. These are the final documents submitted by MS and PhD students. They are peer-reviewed by the student’s committee, and generally provide long-form discussion of a research project. There are frequently related conference and journal papers also published during the project.
Magazines and trade publications. These articles are generally not peer-reviewed, but are sometimes written by leading experts and can provide valuable context and perspective.
IEEE Xplore. A large index covering IEEE publications, which includes many of the major robotics conferences. Generally has full-text PDF downloads.
INSPEC. A comprehensive engineering literature index from Elsevier. Available to us via Engineering Village. The “Check SFX@CMU” link will frequently locate the full-text as part of the library holdings (SFX Link Resolver is another commercial database).
Web of Science. A principal method for finding papers in a field is following the chains of citations. If a paper cites an early work with a lot of citations, frequently the other papers citing the same source will be related. The Science Citation Index is a commercial database indexing papers by citation, available to us as Web of Science.
Google Scholar. Large literature index provided by Google. Frequently links to full-text papers, so even though this isn’t a licensed product, using the CMU VPN can increase access to actual PDF files. This is often an easy starting point, but doesn’t have everything.
Following are some generally recommended sources. You might also browse the Robotics References section of the bibliography.
Robotics Conference Proceedings
These are annual conferences which each publish a book of papers in their proceedings. These are broad conferences, but within these is the ongoing scientific discourse related to soft robotics.
ICRA: IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
IROS: IEEE/RSJ International Workshop on Intelligent Robots and Systems
WAFR: Workshop on the Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics
CHI: ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
AAAI National Conference on Artificial Intelligence
HRI: ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction
RO-MAN: IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication
A chief difference between art and science is that scientists are generally responsible for writing and publishing reports on their own work, but frequently artists make the work but others write about it in reviews and articles.
I cannot yet recommend specific art databases, but here are some I am currently evaluating. 1
Art & Architecture Source (EBSCOhost)
ARTbibliographies Modern (ProQuest)
Arts & Humanities Citation Index (Web of Science, Clarivate Analytics)
Design and Applied Arts Index (DAAI) (ProQuest)
More to consider related to puppetry, theater design, or dance:
I cannot yet recommend specific art journals, but here are some suggestions. 1
ACADIA: Proceedings of the…Conference of the Association of Computer-Aided Design in Architecture
International Journal of Architectural Computing
International Journal of Design
Surface Design (focus is textile design)