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Error-riffic textbook written by a University Professor

  1. Jan 16, 2013 #1
    I will not mention the book by name unless I have to.

    However...

    I have a textbook for a class, which is quite bad. Amazon reviews of the book show 1 star ratings and terrible reviews. The book is error ridden, and there are quite a few typos and mistakes.

    The author teaches at my university. He is not my professor, though he is the advisor to the Phd student that is teaching the class (probability).

    People cry and scream and complain, of course. But rather than do that, I was wondering - is there something productive I can do instead? Is there a proper way to approach the professor, and not only mention the errors (maybe nobody has bothered to do so?) but even offer to help in some way for a later edition. I guess I am thinking I could turn this in to some sort of opportunity and make a better situation for people who take this class in the future.

    The point is - if nobody says anything, how will it ever get fixed?

    -Dave K
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2013 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    These books are great! You can learn a lot by correcting the mistakes.

    Is the book prescribed for any classes?
    In which case - you want to approach the dean.
    Say you are uncertain about approaching the author and you want help.
    Another person to approach would be one of the professor's grad students.
    It's not fatal though because, forewarned, you need only use a second hand text for the in-class references an a real text for the information.

    It helps if you've gone through the book and written an errata - and got the errata checked by someone at the uni ... if you are unsure who to ask, ask the dean who to ask or a more senior student - i.e. aforementioned grad student.

    Offering to help write the next edition will look insulting unless you are some sort of prodigy. Politely circulating errata sheets is easier to accept.
     
  4. Jan 17, 2013 #3
    That's kind of what I was thinking. I might start with the Phd student who is teaching the class, but his office hours don't quite work for me. For now perhaps I will just try to keep track of what I find.
     
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