The success of the course depends to a large degree on the participation of the students and their ability to critically evaluate a research paper. To ensure this quality, we ask every student to submit a short review of each paper to Canvas at 7pm on the day before the lecture where this paper will be discussed.

Reviewing Guidelines

Peer review is an important part of science and engineering. Understanding the review process will make you a better writer. The task of the referee is outlined in this article by Alan Jay Smith. Although you will not be making recommendations for or against publication, use the questions listed in Section 4 of Smith's article to guide the review writing process.

A good review should be one-page long and include several parts. In your review, address the following points:

  • Summarize the paper in 1-5 sentences to show that you know what the point of the paper is. Use your own words.

  • List what you have learned from the paper.

  • List any point of agreement.

  • List any point of disagreement.

  • Evaluate the goal of the paper both in validity and significance

  • Evaluate the quality of the work (methodology, techniques, accuracy, assumptions)

  • Prepare two questions that you have about the paper. This can be about something technical that remained unclear, about practical implications or about connections to previous papers we discussed. We will pick from the pool of questions for class discussion.


Submitting reviews for all papers in the class is worth 20% of your final grade. The reviews will be graded based on the following criteria:

  • Quality in form and content

  • Constructiveness

  • Relation to related work


You will need to submit the following two things no later than 7pm before the day the paper will be discussed.

  • Your review in PDF format to Canvas.

  • An overall rating of the paper to Poll Everywhere.