So school has been fairy devastating recently. The course I TA proved overwhelming for about a stretch of 10 days, impeding my ability to work on course work that was coming up with due dates. Consequently, I've missed a fairly important due date (I'm not sure what else I could have done?) for a literature survey. However, I've completed it anyway, because the benefits of the work will be essential for the remaining presentation and paper in the course. Sigh.
Most stages took more time than I would have liked, as I was trying to compress this into a few days (and failed, heh). Anyway, I took two papers from 2010 that I had already reviewed for another assignment that focussed on my area of interest. I re-scanned them and looked at their citations and what they were cited from. I took note of the relevant papers, but more so the authors. From there I looked up a selection of 8 of the authors that seemed important and looked up their work on Google Scholar, which provides approximate (unreliable) citation counts for given papers.
Doing this, I picked papers that were both highly cited and whose topics seemed relevant, as determined by their title and abstract. Eventually, I had 18 papers. The survey only is for 10, so I then picked out the 10 that seemed most relevant to my interest.
I think I started this off wrong. My original goal was to understand each paper. After spending too many hours reading one, and trying to look up concepts I didn't know (Wikipedia isn't actually that helpful when you get deep enough), I eventually conceded. I wasn't going to make my deadline this way, so I resolved to try to understand the point (as described in the introduction and abstract) and the consequences (as presented in the conclusion) and ideally at least skim the related works, methodology, results, etc.
By the due date, I'd eventually gotten through half of the 5 papers. I considered my options and thought I might note this to my professor, who didn't appear overly sympathetic. Nuts.
There were some unpleasant interruptions the day before, but I don't think that I would have been able to finish writing the report for Tuesday even without them. I guess it was pretty hopeless all along. Regardless, as noted above, it should be worthwhile to finish it anyway, so after a day of despairing, a couple more of working, and one spent life-stuffing, I'm finally done surveying the 10 papers and now working on writing up a simple report on them. (I'm not being too ambitious, given that I've missed out on my chance to have it marked, and I have enough other work that's running low on time now too.)
I originally anticipated that it would take me a normal week to finish this, and it more or less has, though life and TAing tried to sabotage it, mwahaha. Still, I would have liked to have had a normal two weeks, so I could say read a paper a night, and do things properly. I'm trying not to despair too much at this point.