Reviewing a research paper is a cumbersome task. The worst method to tackle this work is to consider it like going through a textbook—reading from the label to arguments presented and absorbing everything without any thoughts or analysis. Instead, your approach towards a research paper should be to know beforehand what you’d like to accomplish.

Studying research papers is a solid strategy to develop personality since it takes much longer, and there’s no certainty you’ll get the complete narrative. This isn’t meant to mock you; rather, it’s meant to be upfront and honest. There are no alternatives reading research papers is daunting but rewarding. Breakthroughs in domains like organic chemistry, genetics, machine learning, databases, drug delivery, and pharmacology are frequently published in the form of research papers. Consider the following techniques: Microwave Irradiation, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Convolutional Neural Networks, and AdaBoost. These are all the result research projects, and sure, they all have papers to back them up.

I can’t make the process easier, but I can break the approach into three simple steps, making it easier for you to understand. Such an approach towards reading research papers is called the Three-Pass Approach. The big idea is to go through any research paper three times where each pass serves a different purpose. The three passes are named the First Pass (Skim), the Second Pass (Re-Skim & Interpret), and the Third Pass (Summarize).

The anatomy of the research paper exposed!

(1). The First Pass (Skim):

The First Pass might take around 10-15 minutes, depending upon the length of the paper. During this pass, you must glance over the body and the conclusion part of the paper (Protip: Read abstract at the end instead start reading by the introduction), do consider going through any available graph or tables, also do read the conclusion, and after skimming through the content, you can decide whether the paper intrigues you or not. Based on that, you can either go for more passes or look for a new paper. 

The anatomy of the research paper exposed!

(2). The Second Pass (Re-Skim & Interpret):

So, the paper intrigued you! At this stage, don’t go too fast to finish the research paper within 10-15 minutes. Instead, you go slow reading everything and stitch the chunks of information you gather. Also, you try relating the different concepts by making bullet point notes which will help you better interpret the research paper.

Sometimes, the research papers are too intricate to comprehend; So in that case, you might not fully understand the research paper. No need to worry about it! You can google the intricate terms and go through the research paper as many times as required until you get the gist of it.

The anatomy of the research paper exposed!

(3). The Third Pass (Summarize):

Since you are done skimming & interpreting, now you can understand what the author is trying to convey via the abstract. You need, to come up with your own conclusions about the research paper. This pass is the most crucial stage of reading a research paper and decides whether you learned anything from the research paper. This stage might take around an hour or two, depending upon the level of your proficiency. You must be able to reframe the entire structure of the document from your leanings at the end of this pass, as well as pinpoint its qualities and shortcomings. You must be able to identify unsubstantiated claims, missing references to certain data, and possible complications with empirical or statistical methodologies, among other things.

To summarise, studying a research paper implies dissecting it and addressing every area with the issues you have to raise. There’s no need to be concerned if you face difficulty in your first few research papers; by taking detailed notes, comparing, and evaluating your research papers with others. You’ll be able to pull valuable insights from the research paper in no time.