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Journals suitable for undegraduates

  1. Jul 6, 2008 #1
    I study mathematics, physics and computer science at university ((interested mostly in theoretical aspects)), and I thought of reading some scientific journals during the summer, to actually see some non-textbook science and know something more than what I've been taught in classes and textbooks (2 years at univeristy don't give you any "feel" about what doing research is like). I suppose that most publications in serious journals are too difficult to understand for an undegraduate (I'll be 3rd year now), but maybe you know some that would be suitable for a student?
     
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  3. Jul 6, 2008 #2
    I think that Physical Review Letters is a good choice then. This journal contains review articles about different areas of Physics.
    Maybe you your university have an online subscription?
     
  4. Jul 6, 2008 #3

    ZapperZ

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    Oh no, PRL is NOT suitable for that level. If anything, PRL is way too compact and thus, assume that the reader is very familiar with the area of study being presented. It certainly does not contain "review" articles.

    I would recommend Physics Today and Physics World, which present timely articles in the active areas of physics that is understandable for an undergraduate and experts alike. I would also recommend reading Am. J. of Phys. and Eur. J. of Phys. since many articles published there are pedagogical in nature. There is also the Journal of Undergraduate Research that presents work done by undergraduates.

    Zz.
     
  5. Jul 6, 2008 #4
    I second ZapperZ comments. Read through Physics Today and Physics World, and if a certain research highlight catches your eye then be adventurous and check out the original publication. Physics publications in Science and Nature magazine are also nice because they have the research summaries which present the publications material in a more digestible format.
    An even easier format is the Physical Review Focus. These are selected PRL articles which are rewritten for an undergrad-type audience. My only complaint is that not enough of the PRL articles are "translated" into this format.

    That being said, there is a value to starting to familiarize yourself with how modern research publications look like. One of the best ways to do this is through a directed reading or a journal club. Some schools have this sort of program setup for undergraduates. If not, start one yourself, or just find a professor or grad student who'd be willing to work with you through some articles.
     
  6. Jul 6, 2008 #5
    I recommend The American Journal of Physics. It has many educational papers.
    Go to SEARCH -> All Online Issues and search for a topic. Type for example "student" and "quantum" into the search boxes (set to "Abstract/Title/Keywords") and many interesting papers pop up.
     
  7. Jul 6, 2008 #6

    Choppy

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    I don't think that the way to go is to just pick up a journal and start reading - unless it's something like Physics Today or Nature. Most peer-reviewed journal articles are written in such a way that you need a solid foundation in the subfield to really appreciate what the article covers - something you don't neccessarily have at the undergraduate level. Not to mention, reading a journal cover-to-cover would make for some pretty dry reading.

    Once you're interested in a particular topic it's best to use a literature search engine like PUBMED or Google Scholar to dig up the relevent articles. You can browse through the abstracts and try to get a feel for the problems that are currently under investigation in that area. This can also help you if you decide on further academic endeavours. Unfortunately I've seen too many graduate students enter a program who rely on their supervisors to do an in-depth literature search only to find out that the particular project they're working on has already been published.
     
  8. Jul 6, 2008 #7

    jtbell

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    As Zz noted, PRL does not contain that type of article. However, Reviews of Modern Physics does. Maybe that's the journal you were thinking of.
     
  9. Jul 6, 2008 #8

    Dr Transport

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    Although, more complete, Review of Modern Physics articles require that the reader have a more than undergrad level of knowledge to be useful. I'm nor saying not to read it, but you have to fill in more gaps than most people who do not work in the area are really able to do.

    American Journal of Physics is the best, also The Physics Teacher is a good journal for the undergrad.
     
  10. Jul 6, 2008 #9
    IMO a nice place to start would be the Annual Review series. It has different science/engineering collections which contains articles in different sub-fields. Those articles are expected to be read by non-professional, and may be suitable for an interested-UG. If an article there really interest you, then follow the references to target some journals. I bet you should find them interesting also. :)
     
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