What to cite?

This question comes from a comment on another post:

I’ve seen authors citing as many references as possible to try to please potential referees. Many of those references are low quality papers though. Any general guidance about a typical length for the reference section?

It depends on the subject and style of the paper. I’ve written a paper with over 900 citations, but that was a review of time series forecasting over a 25 year period, and so it had to include a lot of references.

I’ve also written a paper with just four citations. As it was a commentary, it did not need a lot of contextual information.

Rather than provide guidance on the length of the reference section, I think it is better to follow some general principles of citation in research. Continue reading →

Dark themes for writing

I spend much of my day sitting in front of a screen, coding or writing. To limit the strain on my eyes, I use a dark theme as much as possible. That is, I write with light colored text on a dark background. I don’t know why this is not the default in more software as it makes a big difference after a few hours of writing.

Most of the time, I am writing using either Sublime Text, RStudio or TeXstudio. Each of them can be set to use a dark theme with syntax coloring to highlight structural features in the text.
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 →

Put your pre-prints online

I have argued previously that research papers should be posted online at the same time as they are submitted to a journal. Sometimes people claim that journals don’t allow it, which is nonsense. Almost every journal allows it, and many also allow the published version of a paper to appear on your personal website.

Today I discovered a new tool (thanks to the IMU newsletter) which makes it easy to check a journal’s policy on this. Check out SHERPA/RoMEO.

It’s a very useful tool, but whoever thought SHERPA/RoMEO was a good name needs therapy.

My new forecasting textbook

After years of saying that I was going to write a book to replace Makridakis, Wheelwright and Hyndman (1998), I’m finally ready to make an announcement!

My new book is Forecasting: principles and practice, co-authored with George Athanasopoulos. It is available online and free-of-charge. We have written about 2/3 of the book so far (all of which is already available online), and we plan to finish it by the end of 2012. We hope to make a print version of the book available on Amazon in early 2013.

This textbook is intended to provide a comprehensive introduction to forecasting methods and present enough information about each method for readers to use them sensibly. We don’t attempt to give a thorough discussion of the theoretical details behind each method, although the references at the end of each chapter will fill in many of those details. We use R throughout the book and we intend students to learn how to forecast with R.

The book has it’s own R package: fpp. This contains all the data sets used in the book, and also loads a few other packages that are necessary to complete the examples.

The book is different from other forecasting textbooks in several ways.

  • It is free and online, making it accessible to a wide audience.
  • It is based around the forecast package for R.
  • It is continuously updated. You don’t have to wait until the next edition for errors to be removed or new methods to be discussed. We will update the book frequently.
  • There are dozens of real data examples taken from our own consulting practice. We have worked with hundreds of businesses and organizations helping them with forecasting issues, and this experience has contributed directly to many of the examples given here, as well as guiding our general philosophy of forecasting.
  • We emphasise graphical methods more than most forecasters. We use graphs to explore the data, analyse the validity of the models fitted and present the forecasting results.


Table design

Almost every research paper and thesis in statistics contains at least some tables, yet students are rarely taught how to make good tables. While the principles of good graphics are slowly becoming part of a statistical education (although not an econometrics education!), the principles of good tables are often ignored. Perhaps people think they are obvious, although the results I see in papers and theses suggest otherwise. Continue reading →