Subject ▸ Writing

Rmarkdown template for a Monash working paper

This is only directly relevant to my Monash students and colleagues, but the same idea might be useful for adapting to other institutions. Some recent changes in the rmarkdown and bookdown packages mean that it is now possible to produce working papers in exactly the same format as we previously used with LaTeX.Just install the MonashEBSTemplates package from github. You also need a recent version of LaTeX. Then from within RStudio, create a new document by selecting “Rmarkdown”, “From Template”, and select “Monash EBS Working Paper”.

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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.

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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.

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Standard error: a poem

This poem was written by David Goddard from the Monash University Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. It is reproduced here with his permission. The poem won the inaugural Monash University poetry competition and will soon be published in an anthology of contemporary poetry.For those who like this sort of thing (as I do), there is a nice collection of statistical poetry here. Standard error David Gordon Goddard

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biblatex for statisticians

I am now using biblatex for all my bibliographic work as it seems to have developed enough to be stable and reliable. The big advantage of biblatex is that it is easy to format the bibliography to conform to specific journal or publisher styles. It is also possible to have structured bibliographies (e.g., divided into sections: books, papers, R packages, etc.) Here is my default setting which should be suitable for almost all statistics and econometrics journals.

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Online collaborative writing

Everyone who has written a paper with another author will know it can be tricky making sure you don’t end up with two versions that need to be merged. The good news is that the days of sending updated drafts by email backwards and forwards is finally over (having lasted all of 25 years – I can barely imagine writing papers before email).LaTeX solutions There has been a lot of activity in the development of online LaTeX tools over the last few years.

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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.

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Establishing priority

The nature of research is that other people are probably working on similar ideas to you, and it is possible that someone will beat you to publishing them.When I was working on my PhD, I discovered another PhD thesis by Iris Yeung at UKC with almost exactly the same title as mine, and published a year earlier. In those days, a copy of a thesis had to be printed from microfiche, and then posted by snail mail.

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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.

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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.

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