How to Do Research Meta Discussion

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These are the notes from a lab meta discussion on doing research, reading papers, and finding ideas. The ideas are presented in no particular order.

Assignment

• one enjoyable paper
• different knowledge levels for each

Questions

• Why are you reading that research paper?
• open problems
• related work
• to implement
• to learn about a field
• lit search
• maintaining knowledge
• trends in a field
• interest after conference
• seminal papers
• How does one pick a paper to read?
• number citations
• by reference
• by author
• by conference
• To what level of detail should I read?
• 3 passes (from paper)
• introduction, background, related work useful if unfamiliar
• levels depending on knowledge of area
• find “these are our contrabutions” section
• Is this paper worth reading?
• too many papers to read everything

Approaches

• Be able to explain paper to someone else
• loose
• Read blogs, Medium articles for high-level entry points
• take a class
• Surveys more useful when you are familiar with a field (truth in this?)
• Find your comfort level for entry point
• Videos at 1.5 speed
• Don’t spend all time reading papers
• Recognize when to stop reading a paper
• Don’t always seek to understand every minor detail of a paper
• Recognize what method works for learning a paper or topic
• 4 or 5 hours of deep work per day, use it wisely
• Explore the network of papers
• Read multiple papers at once
• active compare
• Have a [good] pen in your hand
• Take breaks
• 3 passes
1. title, abstract, introduction, and conclusion
2. key points, figures, references, problem and solution
3. fine details, implementation; be able to re-create
• Watch the talk of the paper
• Authors may emphasize certain parts more than others
• Look at the paper’s code
• Build related work before writing your paper
• Use a whiteboard

Tools

• Reference manager (stores pdf)
• Mendeley
• Zotero
• Powerpoint
• gnuplot
• matplotlib

• Wear the skepticism hat, read papers thinking What is wrong with this?
• Wear the creativity hat, think How would I improve this work?

How to write notes

• low-level notes; write while reading
• high-level notes; 2 sentence summary afterwards

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