Happy New Year to all!
For your first paper of the year, why not try one of the online collaborative writing tools? A few like ShareLaTex and WriteLaTex have been development specifically to write scientific papers. I’ve also more recently bumped into Authorea. Described on their website as “a spin-off initiative of Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics”, this tool allows users to easily collaborate around a LaTeX document in a browser-integrated interface. The final documents can then be exported directly as pdf formated for various popular journals.
Here’s a quick video that nicely showcases the functionalities.
Most scientists will tell you that collaboration is key research. Virtually all research projects consist of associations of different persons with complementary skills (+ that one parasitic PI with a high-up position 🙂 ). Collaborating with your labmates is one thing, but larger scale or long distance collaborations require significant attention to track, organize, and synchronize the work. Collaboration tools for researchers can help greatly and online tools to organize experiments or share data efficiently are becoming more popular.
But when comes the times to write a publication, collaborations typically get very messy. Files names become overly complicated as the version number increases; who hasn’t had a TC_v17.1_Final2 at the end of their word documents? Files are exchanged by email, do not get send because of the size, get forgotten in the inbox or spam, and versions get swapped. Luckily SciGit, a version control tool for publication writing has recently went live! Inspired by the hugely success GitHub, the tool advertises three essential functionalities:
- Collaborate without mess.
- Supports your editor.
- Safe and secure.
In sum, with SciGit you can easily track document versions and easily visualize edits while continuing to use your usual off-line text editor such as Microsoft Word. The modifications to the documents can be tracked either online or through the free desktop client (only available for windows at the moment). Deletions are simply highlighted in red and additions in green. The documents are automatically uploaded to the cloud in a safe and secured location with tight control over who can view the documents.
The tools is still in beta and seems to have space to evolve. But keep and open mind and give it a try! Comments are welcome 🙂
A quick post about a recent addition to the list of online tools for researchers:
I’ve just added WriteLaTeX, an interesting online service created by two mathematicians: John Hammersley and John Lees-Miller. LaTeX is one of the few ways to generates good quality scientific documents, that easily integrates formulas and figures. WriteLaTex is an effort to facilitate collaborative writing of scientific papers using LaTeX.
The service lets you create, edit and share your LaTeX documents online and for free. Open a free account and get:
- Up to 1 GB storage space
- Unlimited projects & collaborators
- Private documents as standard
- Dashboard to manage your docs
- Save & Restore version history
- Higher priority compiling
A full tutorial is available here.