For a perspective focusing on theoretical computer science, consult the article by Parberry .After reading these papers, I highly recommend graduate students to find opportunities to practice professional paper reviewing.
Is the research work attempting to overcome the weaknesses of existing approaches? Consult the Appendix for a sample outline, a marking scheme, and page length suggestions.
A high quality scientific claim is always modest — claiming only what can be concluded from the evidence, making explicit the limitation of the evidence, and carefully delimiting the scope of the claim.
4 This restriction on the number of critiques is intentional.
Firstly, the restriction forces you to pinpoint the major weaknesses of the paper, rather than to spend efforts debating issues of peripheral importance.
It works for me, but it is definitely not the only way to structure a paper review. A very good introduction to the subject can be found in an article by Smith .
I outline here an alternative format I learned from a friend of mine. The paper is slanted towards experimental computer science.I find that focusing on critiques offers a more substantial learning experience to the students, forcing them to think rather than to parrot. Based on the referee reports, the program chair of a conference or the editor of a journal will then make the decision of whether to accept the paper.4 5 An Alternative Review Format The format of paper review outlined in the previous section is the one I adopt for my graduate classes. It is therefore instructional to understand how a referee go about reviewing a paper, and learn to read research papers like a professional.Have we forgotten about being fair to a research work? What insights have you gained from reading this work?No, positive evaluations are omitted for a good reason. Notice the parallel between this alternative structure and the summary-critique-synthesis structure in the previous section. Reading research papers is therefore an exercise of critical thinking. In such a case, the authors could very well be repeating works that have already been done decades ago 2 2 3. Have the authors been cutting corners (intentionally or unintentionally)? (Of course, this list is not supposed to be exhaustive.) • What is the crux of the research problem? Solid scholarship involves careful validation of scientific claims. Does the work enable practical applications, deepen understanding, or explore new design space? Such are the signs that the author might not be aware of existing literature on the topic. The following is a list of questions you can ask to help in this direction.Secondly, such a restriction allows you to enjoy the mental room necessary for developing a substantial case against the authors.5 Notice that the Critique section presents only negative evaluations of the paper. Another way of looking at paper reading is that every good paper tells a story. • A young researcher may want to focus on point 3 (Are the claims valid? Evaluating the significance of the research problem and the contributions of the paper usually requires a comprehensive understanding of the research field as a whole. In short, what makes the claims scientific (as opposed to being mere opinions1 )? The role of an abstract is to outline the answers to the above questions. The paper should be an elaboration of the abstract. If you are reading a classical paper that has been published for a while, make sure you are reading the paper in the right historical context: What seems to be obvious now might have been ground-breaking then.