Paper Reading


The goals of paper reading sessions are to develop the skills of critical reading, discussion, and presentation skills. It is organized in the form of an academic conference with reviewers and leaders (can be thought of meta-reviewers). In each reading session, we will go through a maximum of 4 research papers related to a topic. During the session, a leader will present the summary of a paper and lead a discussion of that paper with the reviewers assigned to the paper.

The leaders are responsible for presenting the paper, leading the discussion of the paper with the reviewers, and submitting the summary of the discussion. Each leader will present 1 paper during the quarter and lead the discussion. Only graduate students are expected to serve as leaders. If you are an undergrad and are interested in serving as a leader, talk with the instructor.

The reviewers are responsible for writing the reviews of the paper, participating in the discussion, and giving feedback to the leader on their presentation. Each reviewer will read 1 paper per reading session and participate in the discussion. Both graduate and undergraduate students are expected to serve as reviewers.

Each paper will have 1 graduate student leading the discussion on that topic. The number of reviewers per paper will be (total class enrollment - number of leaders)/4.

The leaders should submit the presentations by midnight before the day of the reading session. The presentations should be uploaded to Canvas under the relevant assignment. The reviewers will give feedback to the leader on their presentation within 24 hours after the presentation. The feedback will be submitted using Canvas and corresponding feedback form.

Paper assignments

The papers for each reading session will be available by the first lecture corresponding to that topic. Leaders and reviewers can sign up for the paper using Google sheets (accessible only to the class). Any conflicts regarding the assignment of papers will be resolved by the instructor.

Preparing a review

Each review should follow the following format. For more details, refer to the slides on How to read/review a paper.

  • Title of the paper
  • Summary of the paper in 3-4 lines.
  • 3 strengths of the paper
  • 3 weaknesses/areas of improvement of the paper
  • Other comments about the paper (e.g., related work, presentation style)

We will use Canvas discussion for the purpose of posting and discussing reviews. Copy and paste your reviews to the discussion section corresponding to the paper. The reviews should be submitted 2 days prior to the corresponding reading section. The reviews will be made available to the leaders and they can use the content from the reviews for presentation (with attribution whereever necessary). After the discussion section, update your reviews and submit them under the relevant Canvas assignment.

Presenting a research paper

Each paper presentation should be a maximum of 15 minutes in length. If there are more than 1 leader assigned for a paper, they should work together to prepare the presentation and lead the discussion. The presentation itself can be done individually or together depending upon your preference. In your presentation,

  • Explain the problem and the approach of the paper briefly. Give a big picture view of the paper to the class.
  • Highlight the most interesting contributions of the paper, especially the parts that are difficult to follow.
  • Present briefly any relevant related work which the paper is based on.
  • Include examples wherever possible for illustrating the details.
  • Be prepared to answer questions on the technical details.

The above is not an exhaustive list. Some useful resources on giving research talks:

Leading/Participating in the discussion

The goal of the discussion with the reviewers is to gain a deeper understanding of the paper and bridge any gaps in understanding. The discussion will led by the leaders for the corresponding paper. During discussions,

  • Identify any disagreements in the understanding of the paper.
  • Resolve any conflicts in the final rating of the paper.
  • Come up with ideas for extending the approach or results presented in the paper.
  • Present the takeaways from the discussion
  • Prepare the final summary that will be posted on the class website along with the paper.


Total: 20% of the grade. In total 3 paper reading sessions. Grade based on paper reviews, discussion participation, and leading paper discussions (for grads).

  • Undergrads: 3 (paper reviews) * 5 + 5 (discussion participation)
  • Grads: 2 * 5 (paper reviews) + 1 * 5 (paper presentation) + 5 (discussion participation)