The Three Pass Approach to Reading Academic Manuscripts

The Three Pass Approach to Reading Academic Manuscripts

The Three Pass Approach to Reading Academic Manuscripts


We shall introduce a three-pass reading strategy for scientific research publications. Prior to using this strategy, we propose that you examine and select publications that are of interest to you. A easy approach to determine this is to examine the source – to see if the work is reliable and has been released in a peer-reviewed publication. Secondly, the researcher verifies the number of articles the author has authored, the number that have been published in a peer-reviewed publication, and the author’s qualifications. Finally, the research’s date – a significant amount of research completed in the past is no longer applicable in present times, owing to changes in human behaviour and lifestyle. As a result, depending on the nature of your work, you still might not continue reading the previous papers.

A Professor at the University of Waterloo invented the popular Three-Pass Approach. This method requires you to read the document three times, each time with a distinct objective.


The first pass provides an overview of the article.

The second pass provides information on the substance of the article.

The third pass enables you to comprehend the paper completely.


First Pass

The goal of the first pass is to do a rapid scan of the paper. Do you recall those passages from your study paper? We will read only the title, abstract, and intro on the first pass. Following that, you can read the section headers to acquire an overview. Then, read the conclusions and scan the references to ascertain the overarching subject of the papers discussed.

The first pass may take no more than 5 to 10 minutes; after that, you may opt to read the document or not, as it may not pertain to your study. If you continue reading, you ought to be able to answer the following question at the conclusion of the first pass:

Which type of paper is this? A piece of measuring paper? An assessment of a pre-existing system? What makes a description of a study prototype?

What other papers is this in relation to? Which theoretical frameworks were employed in the analysis of the problem?

Correctness: Does it look as though the assumptions are valid?

What are the paper’s primary contributions?

Clarity: Is the article written clearly?


Second Pass

Following the first pass, the second attempt allows you to delve into the material, but not the intricacies. You will study the document more carefully for this pass. The entire operation should take no more than an hour. Within an hour of reading the full article, you should have a firm grasp of the paper’s primary points and supporting evidence. Because the article may or may not be difficult to read, do not press yourself to finish it in one sitting. You may choose to put the document away and return to it later.


Third Pass

It may take up to 4-5 hours to complete the first pass of the paper. You will be able to read the work critically and assess it, including identifying the study’s assumptions, its weaknesses, and potential difficulties with the experiments. The third pass’s effectiveness depends on your ability to put oneself in the author’s shoes and practically reimplement the document.

The first time you employ this strategy, it will be difficult since you are not accustomed to reading a page again. With more practise, you will be able to quickly scan tens of articles in a new field and comprehend the material.



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