I am starting my PhD in statistics program next year, and I have some concerns. In my institution, there is a mandatory course that every PhD student has to take in lieu of taking one qualifying examination. The course requires students to read five academic papers and write a report, which will be graded by faculty members.
I was browsing through the reading list for this course, and I often find myself pondering over one twenty-page paper for days and weeks because I want to make sure that I understand all the math, concepts, and other details of the paper. I am supposed to make a report for one paper/month, and I am now quite worried about what I am expected to do as a PhD student because it feels like it takes me forever to comprehend a single paper. I feel discouraged because I have done very well in my bachelor’s and master’s programs in statistics, but I am having such a hard time comprehending these academic papers.
Is it normal for beginning PhD students to have a hard time comprehending academic papers?