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For a piece of university coursework, I have been asked to review a paper of my choice. It is a computer science course, but since it is very mathematical, I thought it was worth asking here.

I was wondering if you had any advice for how I should go about doing this. I am asked to write a two page review covering basic ideas an assumptions they have made. I am also asked, which is the part I am slightly more confused about, to review the quality of the arguments used.

Do you have any general advice, I am not used to reading academic papers.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Reading contemporary, non-expository math papers is so hard! It takes like, a day per page. Pick something easy, give yourself plenty of times to digest the ideas before writing, and go slow! (Do not take this advice as insulting! It comes from years of failing to read papers well.)

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A general principle is to write down your report with one audience in mind: yourself, but before you started studying the paper.

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As a former journal editor, the most important advice I can give a reviewer is to find out where the author states his/her goals of the paper (i.e., what problems is being solved? What mistake has been mode in the past? etc.). Then ensure that the author accomplished that goal. All too often, a goal is stated, and then the paper drifts into a half-measure, or just a lot of snow, and the goal is never addressed.

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