How to read a paper, especially the research paper. You will need three pass from the view of a professor in University of Waterloo. Reading papers is not the same as reading textbook, which the chapters have been arranged in the sequence of learning.
- The first pass is a quick scan to get a bird's-eye view of the paper. You can also decide whether you need to do any more passes based on your quick scan. The scan will include the abstract, the title for each section, and the subtitle of the technique sections. Skip the details of the formulas and proofs. You will stop at the first pass if the topic or the idea of the paper does not interests you.
- In the second pass, read the paper with greater care, but ignore details such as proofs. Focus on understanding the figures, make a note of the import references, which you may further need to read further in the future if necessary. This step may take an hour or more to get a more general idea than the first pass. You will stop at this pass if topic or the idea does not related to your research.
- The key to the third pass is to attempt to virtually re-implement the paper: that is, making the same assumptions as the authors, re-create the work. This pass needs great attention to detail. Even for experiences readers, this step will take more than 2 hours or so. You will read the paper just like you read your textbook. After this pass, you can take a test related to the paper.
Reading papers is the fundamental step of doing research and self learning, especially prepare yourself to be the expert in the certain field. Getting started is never late. Some of the ideas of the pass are from the following paper: http://blizzard.cs.uwaterloo.ca/keshav/home/Papers/data/07/paper-reading.pdf