Syntopic reading is reading to build up an understanding on an entire literature.
Michael Nielsen 1 does syntopic reading by doing the following steps:
- Engaging deeply in an important paper in the literature (e.g. AlphaGo paper).
- Engaging deeply in around 5-10 other key papers in the field, and shallow
reads of other papers in the field.
- This is because it is hard to identify what the most important papers are, and shallow reads help identify them.
- Identify open problems and questions to ask.
- Identify tricks, and observations.
- Identify field-wide blind spots.
Michael Nielsen uses spaced repetition, adding Anki cards for each of the items in 3-5.