Eugene Vinitsky

TLDR: the external experience and the internal experience of reading a paper are extremely different from everyone. You can't know how different unless we share how we do it so here are some ideas and games I use to engage more with a paper.

A template

The goal of this template is to help you avoid the situation where you've been reading a paper for an hour or two but come away realizing you've in fact learned nothing. The problem is that active engagement is the only way you actually learn something (seriously, passive consumption teaches you almost nothing, read about it. It's horrifying and once you realize it you stop wanting to ever passively consume educational material.) but many people don't have a model of what active engagement looks like for paper reading.

Why am I reading this paper?

Fill in this section to convince yourself that it's worthwhile to invest the time into reading this paper. If you can't fill it in, maybe you shouldn't actually read the paper? Some options:


Unresolved question

What bit of the paper didn't you understand? You can link this to a main sheet so that maybe you can come back to it later and see that you get it now. Obsidian is great for this because you can just tag anything and then create a unified page that aggregates everything.

Once you've completed this section, you might consider stopping if the "Why am I reading this paper" section was not super compelling. Everything below requires a lot more work and should not be done for most papers.

New math

Did you learn some new, useful theorem? You can summarize it and link it to a main sheet. Maybe convert it into some Anki cards!

Paper games

Here are some "games" you can play that are useful for making sure you're not blankly scanning the paper without real comprehension.