How to Read Academic Papers

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Reading academic papers is one of the most important parts of scientific research. However, junior graduate students may spend a lot of time learning how to read papers efficiently and effectively. In this talk, I will discuss some basic issues and introduce useful websites/tools/tips for paper reading.

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How to Read Academic Papers

  1. 1. How to Read Academic Papers? Jia-Bin Huang jbhuang0604@gmail.com http://jbhuang0604.blogspot.com/ January, 2011 Taiwan
  2. 2. What this talk is about? Efficient and effective paper reading Useful websites, tools, tips you should know A common sense talk
  3. 3. Paper reading and paper writing "What’s the most resilient parasite?" "An Idea." "A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules." Papers communicate ideas Reading :: Writing = Extraction :: Inception
  4. 4. If You don’t read papers...
  5. 5. Outline 1 Deciding What to Read 2 Make the Best Use of Academic Resources 3 Reading for Breadth and Reading for Depth 4 Summary, Review, and Creative Thinking
  6. 6. Outline 1 Deciding What to Read 2 Make the Best Use of Academic Resources 3 Reading for Breadth and Reading for Depth 4 Summary, Review, and Creative Thinking
  7. 7. Deciding what to read Why? Information explosion → too many papers Only very few of them are helpful for your own research
  8. 8. Deciding what to read How? Evaluate papers by their credibility Select papers by their relevance
  9. 9. Evaluate papers by credibility How? Venue reputation (journal impact factor, conference ranking) Authors (who, affiliation, order, geneolgy) Completeness (reproducibility)
  10. 10. Select papers by relevance The key question Why you want to read this paper? (What do you expect from reading this paper?)
  11. 11. Select papers by relevance Reasons to read papers Get to know a new problem Describe current research Understand a well-known algorithm Follow conventional experiment setup Replicate/extend the results Learn how to write
  12. 12. Get to know a new problem Questions to ask Why is this problem important/hard? What is the problem setting? (input, output) Search : keywords + tutorial/lecture/course/video/introduction/wiki
  13. 13. Otherwise...
  14. 14. Describe current research How? Find key papers and researchers in that area Search : keywords + survey/review/introduction
  15. 15. Understand a well-known algorithm How? No need to read confusing technical papers Search : keywords + tutorial/introduction/wiki
  16. 16. Follow conventional experiment setup How? Each field has its own conventional experiment setup. PSNR/Bit-Rate → image/signal compression Precision and recall/ROC curve → pattern recognition algorithms Confusing/matching matrix → supervised/unsupervised learning Search : keywords + experiment/setting/parameter/evaluation/quantitative/qualitative
  17. 17. Examples PSNR-Bitrate ROC curve Accuracy-Training size Confusion matrix
  18. 18. Replicate/extend the results How? Papers may provide useful data (or state-of-the-art performance) and serve as building blocks in your research Search : keywords + suvery/review/benchmark/qualitative/study
  19. 19. Learn how to write Resources The Science of Scientific Writing by George Gopen, Judith Swan Notes on writing by Fredo Durand Writing Research Papers by Aaron Hertzman Advice on Research and Writing at CMU How to Get Rejected by Fabrice Neyret
  20. 20. Outline 1 Deciding What to Read 2 Make the Best Use of Academic Resources 3 Reading for Breadth and Reading for Depth 4 Summary, Review, and Creative Thinking
  21. 21. Make the best use of academic resources Why? Well, I am a lazy graduate student...
  22. 22. Make the best use of academic resources How? Seek other forms of research product Stay updated
  23. 23. Seek other forms of research product Publication may not be the only product of a research work. What else? Abstract Supplemental material Presentation Demo video Author webpage Project page Code Dataset
  24. 24. Stay updated How? Websites (research blog/preprint sites/author personal page) Mailing list subscription
  25. 25. Blog: a new research platform Examples What’s new by Terence Tao, see also his google buzz Godel’s Lost Letter and P=NP by Dick Lipton Machine learning (Theory) by John Langford Nuit Blanche - compressive sensing news ScienceBlogs
  26. 26. Preprint: get access to the most up-to-date papers Examples arXiv.org: e-prints in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance and statistics Sciweavers: academic bookmarking network Resource for Computer Graphics/Vision by Ke-Sen Huang Author personal page
  27. 27. Mailing list subscription Examples Imageworld: announce worldwide events and academic vacancies MIT CSAIL Seminar UC Berkely computer vision mailing list
  28. 28. Outline 1 Deciding What to Read 2 Make the Best Use of Academic Resources 3 Reading for Breadth and Reading for Depth 4 Summary, Review, and Creative Thinking
  29. 29. Reading for breadth Build a framework What did they do? (by skimming abstract, introduction, headings, graphics, definitions, conclusions and bibliography) Decide whether to go on
  30. 30. Reading for breadth Order matters Extract the high-level idea first, then the details
  31. 31. Reading for depth Challenge what you read How did they do it? How can I apply their approach to my work?
  32. 32. Reading for depth Scientific skepticism Examine the (implicit) assumptions Examine the methods Examine the statistics Examine the conclusions
  33. 33. Examine the (implicit) assumptions Questions to ask Do their results rely on any assumptions about trends or environments? Are these assumptions reasonable?
  34. 34. Examine the methods Questions to ask Did they measure what they claim? Can they explain what they observed? Did they have adequate controls? Were tests carried out in a standard way?
  35. 35. Examine the statistics Questions to ask Were appropriate statistical tests applied properly? Did they do proper error analysis? Are the results statistically significant?
  36. 36. Examine the conclusions Questions to ask Do the conclusions follow logically from the observations? What other explanations are there for the observed effects? What other conclusions or correlations are there in the data that they did not point out?
  37. 37. Outline 1 Deciding What to Read 2 Make the Best Use of Academic Resources 3 Reading for Breadth and Reading for Depth 4 Summary, Review, and Creative Thinking
  38. 38. After reading the paper... How? React to what you read Creative thinking
  39. 39. React to what you read Taking Notes Highlight major points React to the points in the paper Construct your own example Summarize what you read
  40. 40. React to what you read Analogy: Gram-Schmidt process Papers :: Reading = Vectors :: Orthogonalization Extract the “innovation" of the paper.
  41. 41. Creative thinking Resources How to come up with new research ideas by Jia-Bin Huang How to invent? Raskar idea hexagon by Ramesh Raskar
  42. 42. Creative thinking Five ways to come up with new ideas Seek different dimension Combine two or more topics Re-think the research directions Use powerful tools, find suitable problems Add an appropriate adjective
  43. 43. One example - Content-aware image resizing [Avidan and Shamir SIGGRAPH 2007] Idea Resize (reduce/expand) images while preserving the image content. The dimension: space
  44. 44. Video retargeting [Shamir et al. SIGGRAPH 2008] Idea Extend dimensions from 2D image to 3D video: image resizing → video resizing The dimension: space
  45. 45. Nonchronological video synopsis and indexing [Pritch et al. PAMI 2008] Idea Resizing (reduce) the temporal dimension. The dimension: time
  46. 46. Data-driven enhancement of facial attractiveness [Leyvand et al. SIGGRAPH 2008] Idea Reshape the face to enhance attractiveness The dimensions: distances between facial feature points
  47. 47. Parametric reshaping of human bodies in images [Zhou et al. SIGGRAPH 2010] Idea Reshape the human bodies in image The dimensions: human shape
  48. 48. Multi-operator media retargeting [Rubinstein et al. SIGGRAPH 2009] Idea Combine seam carving with cropping and scaling to produce better results
  49. 49. Regenerative morphing [Shechtman et al. CVPR 2010] Idea Combine two different problem: image morphing + image resizing
  50. 50. A Comparative Study of Image Retargeting [Rubinstein et al. SIGGRAPH 2010] Idea Provide the comprehensive perceptual study and analysis of image retargeting
  51. 51. PatchMatch [Barnes et al. SIGGRAPH 2009] Idea Add constraint into the resizing process Adjective: Constrained
  52. 52. Motion-aware video resizing [Wang et al. SIGGRAPH 2010] [Wang et al. SIGGRAPH Asia 2010] Idea Exploit motion information for better video resizing quality Adjective: Motion-aware
  53. 53. References Paper reading How to read a paper by S. Kesha How to Read a Scientific Paper by John W. Little and Roy Parker Efficient Reading of Papers in Science and Technology by Michael J. Hanson How to read a research paper by Michael Mitzenmacher Tools Publish or Perish (a program that analyzes academic citations) Mendeley (Academic reference management software) VideoLectures.NET (Free on-demand educational video lectures)
  54. 54. For more complete materials and explanations, please visit my blog Redefining Open Mind: http://jbhuang0604.blogspot.com/
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