Many tools exist for academic writing including the notorious W.O.R.D.; but many more are out there. Let’s have a look at those tools, and discuss what’s important (what we expect the tool to deliver, eg., beautiful typesetting).
Typical tools for academic writing
MS Word: A “classical” choice, relied upon by myriads of white collar workers… I myself have used it extensively for academic writing; the main advantage being its simplicity, that is, well, everybody knows it, and knows more or less how to handle it. It’s widespread use is of course an advantage.
TeX: The purist’s choice. The learning curve can be steep, but its beauty and elegance of typesetting if unreached.
Overleaf, Authorea: Web-based apps that make it easy to enjoy modern functionality by making the entry hurdle as low as possible. These riches do not come for free; commercial organizations would like to see some return of investment.
- Full: With the “full” approach I refer to a blended version of several tools, mainly:
- RMarkdown (ie., knitr + markdown + pandoc)
- Git + Github
- stylesheets such as papaja (APA6 stylesheet)
Markdown: Markdown is a simple variant of markup languages such as HTLM or LaTeX. Its marked feature is its simplicity. In fact, it can be learned in 5 minutes (whereas TeX may need 5-50 years, some say…).
- Google Docs: Easy, no (direct) costs, comfortable, but some features are lacking - There’s no easy for citations. In addition, some say intellectual rights are transferred to Google by using G Docs (I have no clue whether that’s true).
Tool comparison table
libs <- c("readr", "tidyverse", "pander", "emo", "htmlTable") pacman::p_load(char = libs)
tools <- read_csv("academic_writing_tools_competition.csv")
|2||Different output formats||2||3||3||3||3||2|
|6||Reproducibility of writing||1||3||2||3||1||1|
|9||Style sheets (eg., APA)||1||2||3||2||1||1|
|12||Option for private writing||3||3||1||3||3||3|
Let’s assume we have some weights that we assign to the critera:
|2||Different output formats||2|
|6||Reproducibility of writing||2|
|9||Style sheets (eg., APA)||2|
|12||Option for private writing||2|
Scores by tool
So we are able to devise a score or a ranking.
score %>% ggplot + aes(x = reorder(tool_name, score), y = score) + geom_point() + coord_flip() + xlab("tool")
And the winner is…
The full approach. The full approach gets most points (disclaimer: well, I designed this competition, and I like this approach 😄.
There are numerous tutorial on “the full approach” out there, .eg.
- RMarkdown materials from RStudio
- Christopher Gandrud’s book Reproducible Research with R and RStudio Second Edition - free pdf full text
- Also by the same author Reproducible Research with R and R Studio
- Find here some case studies on reproducible research.