Do you believe there is a gap between computer science research and software engineering problems?
My experience is that commercial/practical software development lags behind academic research by 5 to 30+ years. One of the fastest timeframes from a breakthrough academic paper to a commercial shipping product was SQL. The paper was published in 1969, IBM and others spent a lot of time and effort trying to make viable products, and the first real commercially viable product was Relational Software - the company now called Oracle.
Functional languages were developed by researchers in the 1960s. How many are in common use today? Some. They're getting a lot more use these days than they did outside of the ivy-covered walls of universities. But it took three decades to do so.
Will engineers dive through years and years of research papers to solve a particular problem that they have?
Yes. I do it all the time. When I worked at a company that made storage area networks, many of the products starting to get shipped were described in research papers published 5-6 years earlier.
Another example involved a problem called "patient matching." Humans are good at looking at things like
Chem. Dept. or
Department of Chemistry and determining such things are identical. Most algorithms have a terrible time determining such things. I was working at a company that handled electronic drug prescriptions, lab reports and insurance claims. It would have been helpful to be able to (anonymously) be able to have long term data covering the efficacy and effectiveness of treatments for patients. Such a thing would have needed to depend on the ability to determine the closeness of strings. During the 1990s, most researchers in this area vanished into the Human Genome project, and most of their work disappeared off the web (with NDAs and intellectual property, everything these folks invented vanish from the web when they go to work for private industry). After 911, matching names became a "national security" issue (there are about 25 ways to spell Mohammed in English, and about a dozen ways to spell Osama) and many of the remainder vanished as well. So one inventor/company had a product that let you match people and relationships called "non obvious relation analyzer" which ended up vanishing into an add-on for DB2. You'll have to dig into papers a lot. Maybe not if you make shopping carts, but it is quite common to do so in other projects.
Thesis: Adaptive detection of approximately duplicate database records and the database integration approach to information discovery.
Library that implements some of the functions in the thesis.