Reading research papers effectively is challenging. It requires a different focus and technique than reading for typical coursework. Your goal when reading a scientific paper is to understand the scientific contributions that the author is making, which may require reading over the paper several times. Expect to spend several hours reading a paper (this does become easier over time).
Merely understanding the paper, however, isn’t enough for this class. You will also need to analyze the contributions made in the paper. This often means asking (and attempting to answer) questions as you read.
Some examples include:
Michael Mitzenmacher has some good advice and tips on what to ask yourself when reading papers, which you may find useful!
William Griswold has prepared a form of good questions to ask yourself which you may find helpful while reading.