I often find academic research-level Q&A communities rather helpful when looking for an introduction to or an overview concerning a new topic. However, I only know such communities concerning a limite number of research fields such as
Disclosure: I am among the founders of PhysicsOverflow
A clustering search engine can help you group search results in areas you don't know well. So I would suggest you try Open Knowledge Maps which by default uses the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) in the background and clusters the publications that match your query.
Disclosure: I am involved in running BASE.
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