Tag Archives: publishing

Adventures in Publication 2003-2008

A couple weeks ago, a colleague wrote me asking for a pdf copy of a paper that I had in press.  I told him that I would be happy to send him the file if I ever got it. You see, the paper had been “in press” since 2006.  When I said this, he informed me that he was looking at the actual journal with my paper in it; he just wanted a pdf copy so he could use it in class.  Since I had heard nothing about the publication and he just happened to be looking at the hard copy, I asked if he would be so kind as to send me the publication information so I could update my CV.  The citation is as follows:

Jones, J. H., and B. D. Ferguson. 2006. The Marriage Squeeze in Colombia, 1973-2005: The Role of Excess Male Death. Social Biology. 53 (3-4):140-151.

2006!  How can a paper published in December of 2008 have a 2006 publication date on it?  Turns out, it’s complicated. It seems that the journal Social Biology has been undergoing some substantial changes and has a horrible backlog of papers.  Apparently there was a big debate at the board meeting at last year’s PAA meeting about how to deal with this.  The decision was to maintain continuity, which meant publishing papers in order even if the publication date was two years off at the time of publication. Oh well.  I can’t decide whether this is a good or bad thing.  2006 was actually a pretty thin year for me in terms of publications (I was busily trying to learn some new skills as part of my career award and this has a way of slowing the mill), so there might actually be a silver lining to this cloud of delayed publication.  I would link to the paper, but I still don’t have a pdf!

Another publication that finally came out was a chapter in a book that Melissa Brown edited.  This book publishes the papers given in a conference held in January of 2003 here at Stanford.  This actually happened before I arrived at Stanford (though I already had accepted the job offer) while I was still a post-doc at the University of Washington.

Jones, J.H. 2008. Culture for epidemic models and epidemic models for culture. In M. Brown, ed., Explaining Culture Scientifically, Seattle: University of Washington Press. pp. 117-136.

Wow, books take a long time to get published.  It was weird when I got the proofs for this chapter earlier this year.  I hadn’t thought about the material in this chapter, literally, in years.  I’m back thinking about this stuff again, albeit in a slightly different form.  But that’s material for another post…

LaTeX Filters

I recently joined the editorial board of PLoS ONE.  To facilitate rapid turn-around of accepted manuscripts, PLoS ONE has some fairly rigid requirements for the submission of electronic files.  One of the most unfortunate restrictions is that the journal does not accept manuscripts prepared using LaTeX.  This is a shame because PLoS ONE has published some excellent papers in theoretical population biology (Tulja et al. (2007) and Pavard et al. (2007) are two examples that come immediately to mind).  So, what is an author to do when he or she has a manuscript with a lot of typeset material and intends to submit to PLoS ONE?

There are a number of filters that allow one to write a TeX file to some other format (e.g., .doc, .rtf, .html).  Many of these options are enumerated in this ancient web page, apparently last updated in 1999!  One reasonably acceptable solution that I have found is tex2word, a utility that allows you to read a .tex file directly into Word.  All typeset material is converted using MathType.  Don’t be too put off by the extremely hokey website. I have found this software to work pretty well.  It gets confused by some custom macros and it can not help with references managed with BibTeX.  There are other little issues such as the inability to convert objects set in mathcal (e.g., \mathcal{R}_0).  By and large, though, it works remarkably well. The big problem for me is that tex2word only works under windows.  I thus have to start up Parallels each time I want to convert a document (not to mention the hassle of maintaining licenses for things like MS Office and MathType on two platforms).  I don’t know if it would work under wine, but I’m sure it works with VMware, so it is at least theoretically accessible to Linux users as well.

So, for would-be contributers to PLoS ONE (and other journals that can’t handle LaTeX), despair not!  You don’t actually have to write technical papers in Word (my rule of thumb is that if there are two typeset objects — equations, or even parameters or variables referred to in-text — it’s worth writing in LaTeX).  Write it using LaTeX — say, in emacs (Aquamacs being my favorite instantiation) —  and convert to Word only after you’ve let the serious software do all the heavy lifting.