Paperpile makes me more productive

One of the first things I tell my new research stu­dents is to use a ref­er­ence man­age­ment sys­tem to help them keep track of the papers they read, and to assist in cre­at­ing bib files for their bib­li­og­ra­phy. Most of them use Mende­ley, one or two use Zotero. Both do a good job and both are free.

I use nei­ther. I did use Mende­ley for sev­eral years (and blogged about it a few years ago), but it became slower and slower to sync as my ref­er­ence col­lec­tion grew. Even­tu­ally it sim­ply couldn’t han­dle the load. I have over 11,000 papers in my col­lec­tion of papers, and I was spend­ing sev­eral min­utes every day wait­ing for Mende­ley just to update the database.

Then I came across Paper­pile, which is not so well known as some of its com­peti­tors, but it is truly awe­some. I’ve now been using it for over a year, and I have grown to depend on it every day to keep track of all the papers I read, and to cre­ate my bib files. Con­tinue reading →

Generating tables in LaTeX

Typ­ing tables in LaTeX can get messy, but there are some good tools to sim­plify the process. One I dis­cov­ered this week is tables​gen​er​a​tor​.com, a web-​​based tool for gen­er­at­ing LaTeX tables. It also allows the table to saved in other for­mats includ­ing HTML and Mark­down. The inter­face is sim­ple, but it does most things. For com­pli­cated tables, some addi­tional for­mat­ting may be nec­es­sary. Con­tinue reading →

Managing research ideas

I received this email today:

Dear Pro­fes­sor Hyn­d­man,
I was won­der­ing if you could maybe give me some advice on how to orga­nize your research process. I am able to search the lit­er­a­ture on a cer­tain topic and iden­tify where there is a ques­tion to work with. My main dif­fi­cult is to orga­nize my paper anno­ta­tions in order to help me to guide my research process, i.e, how to man­age the infor­ma­tion gath­ered in those papers to com­pose and struc­ture a doc­u­ment which can rep­re­sent the research devel­oped so far.
I have been look­ing at dif­fer­ent tools such scrivener, Qiqqa, papers2, etc but I am not sure if one of these tools would be the right way to go. To be hon­est I am not even sure a tool would do what I am look­ing for, not just orga­nize ref­er­ences and anno­tate pdfs but to get more con­trol of my research process.
I appre­ci­ate if I could get your thoughts on this subject.

Con­tinue reading →

Makefiles for R/LaTeX projects

Updated: 21 Novem­ber 2012

Make is a mar­vel­lous tool used by pro­gram­mers to build soft­ware, but it can be used for much more than that. I use make when­ever I have a large project involv­ing R files and LaTeX files, which means I use it for almost all of the papers I write, and almost of the con­sult­ing reports I pro­duce. Con­tinue reading →

Blogs about research

If you find this blog help­ful (or even if you don’t but you’re inter­ested in blogs on research issues and tools), there are a few other blogs about doing research that you might find use­ful. Here are a few that I read.

I’ve cre­ated a bun­dle so you can sub­scribe to all of these in one go.

Of course, there are lots of sta­tis­tics blogs as well, and blogs about other research dis­ci­plines. The ones above are those that con­cen­trate on generic research issues.

Blog aggregators

A very use­ful way of keep­ing up with blogs in a par­tic­u­lar area is to sub­scribe to a blog aggre­ga­tor. These will syn­di­cate posts from a large num­ber of blogs and pro­vide links back to the orig­i­nal sources. So you only need to sub­scribe once to get all the good stuff in that area.

There are now sev­eral blog aggre­ga­tors avail­able that might be of inter­est to read­ers here. And this blog is now syn­di­cated on sev­eral other sites includ­ing those listed below. Con­tinue reading →

Seeking help

Every day I receive emails, or com­ments on this blog, ask­ing for help with R, fore­cast­ing, LaTeX, pos­si­ble research top­ics, how to install soft­ware, or some other thing I’m sup­posed to know some­thing about. Unfor­tu­nately, I can­not pro­vide a one-​​man help ser­vice to the rest of the world. I used to reply to all the requests explain­ing where to go for help, but I stopped reply­ing a while ago as it took too much time to do even that.

If you want help, please ask at either stats​.stack​ex​change​.com (for R or sta­tis­tics ques­tions) or tex​.stack​ex​change​.com (for LaTeX questions).

Unless you are one of my stu­dents, the only ques­tions I will answer are ones that con­cern my R pack­ages or research papers. And even then, I won’t reply if the answer is in the help files. I write those help files for a rea­son, so please read them.

I’m sorry I can’t do more, but if I did every­thing peo­ple ask me to do, I’d never write any papers or pro­duce any R pack­ages, and I think that’s a bet­ter use of my time.