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How to read review book or paper

  1. May 2, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone, I have a very general question about how to read a review book or paper? My
    tutor want to me read the book of deGennes and Tinkhan to start learning superconductor. Although I can unserstand the main features and even calculation,but i still can't "understand" BCS theory, I don't know whether i need to refer to the original papers. Actually this is a problem confusing me long time. Whenever I read some review paper or monography ,there are always something I can't understand, i don't know whether this is common or normal?say those things just want to give some progress in the field , you need to go to literature for complete undestanding.
    Hope someone experienced can help me! Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2012 #2

    Andy Resnick

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    It's totally normal. The only way I have to 'completely' understand something is to either work through the calculation or do the measurement/experiment myself.
  4. May 3, 2012 #3
    I double Andy's post. Quite often, reading new papers/books is strongly connected with reading other sources as well. If you are lucky, these sources are cited. Sometimes, the author(s) consider the matter as generally known although it isn't and then the true battle starts :D

    Once refereeing a paper I had to go through other ~5 papers as well. This improved my knowledge of the actual state of the art and revealed the paper of interest to be close to plagiarism...
  5. May 3, 2012 #4


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    I'm guessing that you mean "Tinkham".

    As has been said by the people ahead of me, do not assume that just because you were given so many things to read, that those are the only things you have to read. You should expect that you will need to dig out other things to be able to understand the sources that you were originally given. See Part XI in "So You Want To Be A Physicist".

    You should also see if other graduate students would be willing to help you out in understanding it, but this is not the most ideal situation since those students may have to deal with their own understanding of something else.

  6. May 3, 2012 #5
    ZapperZ reminded me chapter 4 "Learning to study", section "Study" on page 69 in Paul Halmos' book "I want to be a mathematician". I glowingly recommend it (and the whole book). It's very motivating.
  7. May 3, 2012 #6
    Thanks ZapperZ, I think maybe i don't expose my problem clearly.Actually I don't know to what degree i should stop when i read the book of Tinkham or De gennes.Do I just need to know the main idea and features or I must understant superconductor deeply?Take the BSC theory Superconductor as example, I know that the groud state is unstabe against cooper pair,I know we calculate the ground state by finding minimum, then go to finite temperature,calculating thermo quanlity.....But I still think I am not really understand something, say what is actually the quas-particles and the energy gap mean? DO I need understand this when first read? If not, even if know the current hot topics, how could I do some real contribution? I really need you help.Thank you
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