Paper Summary Guidelines
CMSC 601

Marie desJardins

(a few words added by Charles Nicholas)

Remember: Even in a paper summary, if you want to use text from the original source, you must use quotation marks (and a citation, if it isn't obvious what the source is). Excessive use of quotes usually indicates that you didn't really understand the ideas well enough to express them in your own words (and makes the summary flow poorly).

Strategies for Reading Papers

If you've come across a paper in the course of your explorations, you need to first decide if it's relevant.  (Obviously, if it's an assigned paper, you may skip this step!) Once you've decided (or been told) to read the paper, don't just tackle the paper head-on. Approach it strategically. When you're doing your own literature survey, or reading for your own research, it's a good idea to keep a list of citations that might be worth tracking down, with at least enough bibliographic information to find the actual paper later on. Marie also keeps a BibTeX file with all of the papers she's read! Ideally, this BibTeX file would be annotated with a short summary of each paper. (For this class, since you have to do an annotated bibliography, and later a literature survey, keeping these summaries as you go along is highly recommended!)

Some Useful Links
How to Read a Scientific Paper, John W. Little and Roy Parker, University of Arizona.
Oriented towards biology papers, so not everything is relevant, but section 4, "Evaluating a Paper," has some particularly helpful suggestions.
Armando's Paper Writing and Presentations Page, Armando Fox, Stanford University.
Mostly on writing and presenting papers, but also talks about reviewing papers.
CS 555: How to Survive!, John Brewer, ISI.
How to Read a Scientific Research Paper: A Four-Step Guide, Joceline Boucher, Maine Maritime Academy.
(Modified with permission from Ann McNeal, School of Natural Science, Hampshire College.)