DLT Interoperability and More ⛓️#27 — SPECIAL EDITION-How to Analyze Academic Papers⛓️

Rafael Belchior
3 min readSep 1


In this series, we analyze papers on blockchain and interoperability.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

This edition is shorter and more meta: I will provide the template and rationale for systematically reviewing academic papers — used not only as part of my service to the community as a reviewer but also to create this series’ blog posts.

First of all, there are lots of books and academic papers on how to read, review, write, and analyze academic papers. Writing an academic paper is a delicate craft that balances a novel idea backed by strong motivation, perseverance, discipline, and technical rigor. Being a Ph.D. student, there are many people much better qualified to guide those topics. Nonetheless, that is not my main goal. My goal is to showcase the simple framework I use.

The framework was introduced to me by Professor Miguel Pardal, who taught me Advanced Topics in Cybersecurity at Técnico Lisboa. In that course, we had to review several papers published in top-tier conferences. Let’s dive into it:

➡️ Title: this item is exclusive to the series.

➡️ Authors: this item is exclusive to the series.

➡️ Paper source: this item is exclusive to the series-

➡️ Background: this item is exclusive to the series, since it is useful for the audience to read a gentle introduction to a topic. The authors of a paper are, presumably, experts in the area.

➡️ Motivation: this item is exclusive to the series. Similarly to the background, the reader might benefit from explicitly be informed of the relevance of the paper for a particular area.

➡️ Contributions: should be simple and concise.

💪 Strong points: here we give some praise to the authors of a paper. We acknowledge good, hard work that provides useful insights for the community. I tend to value a lot technical and open-source contributions, especially if they are easily reproducible (and try to do that on my papers).

🤞 Suggestions for improvement: here, we acknowledge the limitations of the paper, in a high level. Try to be objective, constructive, and polite.

🔥 Points of interest: the idea for this point is to provide specific feedback, sentence by sentence. This is where expertise and domain knowledge matter a lot. Grammar and editorial improvements (e.g., references, feedback on figures and tables, etc) can also be suggested, but the most value is on specific feedback. In the series I call the section points of interest; on an academic paper review i call it “detailed comments”.

➡️ See Also & Comparison: this item is exclusive to analyzing academic papers. It provides a list of references that are relevant to the paper that the authors may not have considered. A short comparison is provided.

🚀 What are the implications for our work: this item is exclusive to the series. It provides an overall high-level vision of why is this paper important.

Hope it was clear. Good readings!



Rafael Belchior

R&D Engineer at Blockdaemon. Opinions and articles are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of my employer. https://rafaelapb.github.io