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Copy of Playbook: How to Read Research Papers

By Amna, TKS Boston
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Purpose: To help you become more efficient when doing research.
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Originally made during the TKS Global AI Hackathon 2020
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Step 1: Exploration Phase β›΅

Start by identifying a general topic that you're interested in. Think about what sparks your curiosity.
You can start by looking through the following resources:
Tip: Wikipedia and Golden are also a great source to get a broad understanding of a topic before you start to dig deep.
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Step 2. Refinement Phase πŸ₯½

When you have narrowed down a research area, you'll need to validate it by asking yourself: How feasible is this? Has this been done before? What are the latest developments in this field? These questions are often best answered by digging into research papers directly.
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Why read papers?
β€œBe skeptical. But when you get proof, accept proof.” – Michael Specter
Research papers go through comprehensive review processes before getting published that check the validity of the methods, results and conclusions. With millions of contradicting sources on the internet reading papers is an easy way for you to make conclusions yourself based on what the data shows.
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How to find research papers:
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Pro-tip: Make sure that the research you are looking at is RECENT. Especially for AI, a LOT happens each year, so keep in mind how outdated the papers you are looking at are.
Start by looking up key words in Google Scholar.
How to access papers that you dont have access to:
You dont always need to read the whole paper. Most of the time the abstract is available for free, and that is often all you need. If you want the whole paper there are a few ways to do this:
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You can add library links based on any group you may be part of. Search to see if your local library, school or any organizations you are affiliated with have links.
Tap the 3 lines in the top corner β†’ Settings β†’ "Library Links" β†’ Search for any libraries you may be affiliated with.
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Sci-Hub (only use if you cant find another way to access your papers)
Tips for searching on google scholar
Make use of the advanced search feature:
Tap the 3 lines in the top corner β†’ Advanced Search
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How to EFFICIENTLY Read a Paper:
β€œThere is an art of reading, as well as an art of thinking, and an art of writing.” - Clarence Day
Research papers are filled with technical jargon that can be intimidating. But with these tips you can read a paper and get its key takeaways in 10 minutes or less without any expertise in the area.
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Pro-tip: Don't read a paper from start to finish. See my tips below.
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Papers are typically outlined as follows:
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Title: Topic and information about the authors.
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Abstract: Brief overview of the article.
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Introduction: Background information and statement of the research hypothesis.
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Methods: Details of how the study was conducted, procedures followed, instruments used and variables measured.
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Results: All the data of the study along with figures, tables and/or graphs.
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Discussion/Conclusion: The interpretation of the results and implications of the study.
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References/Bibliography: Citations of sources from where the information was obtained.
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Here is the order in which you should read them instead:
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Read the abstract. The overview will give you a sense of whether this paper is worth reading more.
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Read the discussion/conclusion. These are the biggest takeaways from the research.
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Go back to introduction if you are interested in digging deeper. It will give you more background into the field of research, and justify the experiments performed in the paper.
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Read the methods and results if you are skeptical about the findings of the paper.
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Also, look over these:
Video: How to Read a Research Paper (focused on AI, but the info is transferrable)
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Step 3: What Solutions Already Exist? πŸ› οΈ

If your research was done for the purpose of coming up with a solution to a problem, you need to determine what solutions already exist. Make sure that before you start to build anything you do your research on what already exists.
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If you are building an app, you can search on apple's app store or google play.
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You can also look for up and coming products that exist on Product Hunt
IF your solution already exists you can do 2 things:
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Refine the product that already exists by determining what its pitfalls are and where it can be improved.
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Brainstorm another solution.
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