Some tips for reading research papers
- You will need to read through parts of the paper more than once.
It almost always takes more than a single read-through of a paper to
really understand and analyze the ideas/work presented.
Here is a suggestion for how to read a research paper:
- First read the abstract, the introduction and the conclusion and look
through the references. If the paper is well written, you should now know what
problem the authors are addressing, why the problem is important, what the
authors solution is, what their solution contributes to the area, and how
the authors demonstrate/prove that their solutions works and that it improves
on other solutions in some way(s).
- Next read through the entire paper starting with the abstract again.
Don't skip over figures, re-read parts that you don't understand.
Write down questions you have as you go along.
- Finally, re-read the paper critically. Did the authors do what they said
they were going to do? What are the important ideas? (just because an author
says something is important doesn't mean it really is) Do their results make
sense? Are their methods sound? What assumptions are they making?
How does their work fit in with other similar work?
What improvements/extensions do they contribute?
- Make an outline of the paper
The idea is to create some organized information about the paper that
will help you sort out the details. Highlight the major points of the paper
in as detailed a way as is useful to you.
- Create a list of questions:
about parts that you don't understand
about parts where you question their solution/proof/methods/results
- List comparisons of this paper to other related work with which you
Links to other reading and writing advice