Paper Reading Guidelines

The aim of these guidelines is to provide a simple method of reading research papers in preparation for a paper reading session. They might be of more help to people that don’t do research on a daily basis, but more experienced people might also find ideas worth trying.

First of all, the methodology for reading papers has already been discussed in several places. I recommend first reading “How to Read a Paper”. Here the author recommends the three-pass approach, involving reading the paper quickly a first time to get an overview of it, a second time to understand key points and write down the questions you might want to ask the authors, and a third time to understand the paper at a fundamental level.

Be aware that this method is only one of many others that may suit you better. (Optionally) check this blog post, this Reddit thread, and this presentation, to learn more about them.

Regardless of the chosen method for reading, participants should try to understand what the authors did (contributions), how they did it at a high level (methodologies), and why they did (context, motivation). Of course you’re allowed to not understand parts of the paper, but you must read it carefully enough to have questions. We recommend performing at least 2 passes as described in the three-pass approach to achieve this.

Doing all this should be enough for having a fruitful paper reading session.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to reply to this post.