If you need help with online teaching or other challenges in academia arising from the COVID-19 crisis, we have prepared this FAQ to get you started.

Hot answers tagged

74

Is it okay to use Mathematica to solve the integration and use the result in my research? Of course it is. It might be useful, though, to make the Mathematica code employed for the calculations available to others, either through a public repository or by a note in the paper suggesting to contact the author(s). This will allow reviewers or other readers to ...


58

Another PhD student in my floor asked how to fix a slow system. Here is my supervisor's reply: If you need to have a fast desktop, the best is to convince your boss to spend 3 days of your salary to buy a top of the line Linux machine (or a week of salary to buy a Mac). Anything else is stupid on their part. Note that your cost is not only salary, but is ...


49

I take this question as not specific to Mathematica, but equally relevant to any other computer algebra system. You have an integral or an equation that you cannot solve. You have a piece of software that will give you a result. But you don't know how it arrived to the result. Is it okay to use it? What matters is whether the result is correct, not how ...


48

This is a good question and I don't want to discourage you, but let me explain what you will likely find most of the time. They each already have a preferred way of giving you their feedback and some or all of them will not want to use whatever tool you choose. Since they are doing you a favor, you will need to respect their preference. For instance, I ...


45

HTML and CSS for typesetting? No, just no. HTML and CSS were designed for looking good on screen, not paper. Although there are CSS styles for page printing, using a medium for a purpose other than its original design will at best be an overkill (if it works) and in most cases a utter source of frustration. The obvious choice seems to be LaTeX... I ...


37

At my university in the UK we have two kinds of assessment for programming courses. Pass/fail 'practicals' where students are given programming tasks, and are explicitly allowed to discuss them with each other and search online. When the student is ready to submit their solution a demonstrator will look it over and ask questions etc to make sure the student ...


32

Consider two things that are (almost) unique to computer science: researching programming methods on the internet is standard practice, with stackexchange.com being the #1 hit for many searches. Requiring someone to memorize the details is not industry practice. I would not consider accepting a programming job anywhere that said "no internet access". And I ...


30

It isn't exactly hard to do references by hand, in any word processing system, just boring and a bit fiddly at times. However, given the number of questions here on references it isn't like the citation managers aren't fiddly as well. Having in the deep dark past written citation handling/numbering preprocessers/code for nroff, spinoff, and straight TeX (...


25

To add to other answers that will probably suggest some nice, specific software: Use whatever you are comfortable with. I personally don't think this figure 8 is that special, and I don't even think it has any features that cannot easily be done with something as common as Excel. As also mentioned in some comments: even the potential graphical powerhouse ...


24

Some 20 years ago before all the electronics changed our ways of dealing with stuff, post and bank employees who had to deal with piles of paper (or banknotes) throughout day used a device which was essentially a piece of a wet sponge in a small bowl. They had this on the desk and whenever were about to touch paper, they would simply brush their fingers ...


23

Mind maps might be what you're looking for. From the Wikipedia page: A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea... Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, ...


23

If you are in a field with lots of equations, the journals you are going to publish in will almost certainly take .tex. So write in LaTeX. Otherwise you will not be writing your equations rapidly or with ease (compared to those who know LaTeX)*. Use a front end like LyX if you want some WYSIWYGness. If you are in any non-equation-heavy field, use MS ...


23

I don't think that an iPad does anything magically different for academic personell than for anybody else. Some of my colleagues review papers on them, some use them as a very small laptop while travelling, and (I presume) most just use it to read the news, play games, or slack off otherwise while in the train or plane. In summary - if you have no idea what ...


23

When working with non-LaTeX users, I've seen people use many different workflows for citation management. The answer mainly depends upon what workflow and software people use. Here's some things I saw: EndNote. The EndNote web version had some nice features for sharing libraries across users. I used this in Grad School to collaboratively do a review of the ...


22

It's unethical to use your university's hardware resources and then not share with them the eventual proceeds of that research. If the work you do were to produce papers, then they would share in the reputational advantage for employing you and being affiliated with your work. If it would produce a patent or a product, then employment rules at my university ...


20

tl;dr: Wordpress (installing a Markdown plugin), if you are a techie, Jekyll. (My website is in Wikidot, I created for my group with Wordpress. EDIT: Now I use Jekyll; here's why) See Software for Scientists: Website tools: For personal homepages, lab notebooks and conference websites. WordPress - code and WordPress - hosting Examples: ...


19

For non-linear note-taking and also collaboration I use TiddlyWiki. It is one file that stores all your notes as an interactive wiki. Through a plug-in it support LaTeX-math. If you throw it on a shared dropbox then it can even be a quick way to share ideas with colleagues. If you want something more formal than dropbox, then there are hosted options like ...


19

Yes it's possible. Yes it's been done. There are plenty of StackExchange clones such as OSQA to use - there's a question over on meta-stackoverflow that lists them. You can pretty much pick your favourite platform, and there will be a StackExchange clone for it. But: You might well find that take-up rates are very very low (maybe one in 20 if you're lucky)....


19

(Supplementing F'x's answer.) Physical notebook I use it all the time, as it is the quickest way to write mathematics and jot diagrams. It's low tech, so it's "always on" (e.g. I cannot run out of batteries). I have one A4 notebook (so I take it anywhere), with removable pages. I try to devote a single page only to a single project. On each page I note ...


19

Clearly define what are your goals and constraints, and work from there. What are the things that they need to learn in order to progress further in the field (and someday find a job)? What are constraints imposed by the research project you will be working on? Goals — if learning a specific piece of software is required to become a professional in your ...


19

They really ought to provide adequate hardware, but realistically it may not happen. I have no problem with using my own computers for academic purposes (and had no problem during my PhD). However I wouldn't bring a personal desktop PC in to work. Or at least I wouldn't until I knew the security and IT support staff well, and then I'd be reluctant. It's ...


19

Git! Or more generally, version control systems, if your co-authors are technically inclined enough to know/learn how to use one. If not, probably... write the text in google docs first and designate someone who will do the formatting in the latter stages, and decide what to cut to make the page limit.


17

The answer depends a lot on one's field of work, where the end product will appear, whether the collaborator's mutually agree upon the package and finally the OS one use. Most journals or conferences accept manuscripts in DOC or DOCX format; other than TeX. Native formats of OpenOffice or LibreOffice are not [always] supported in most DTP centres/print or ...


16

I've found that the secret is (1) good tools to create equations, plus (2) liberal use of arrows and text, plus (3) animations linking the two. I've found the following two programs to be indispensable for writing talks: LateXiT for the Mac KLaTeXFormula for a number of OSs, similar to latexit but less functional The goal is to make the math (1) visually ...


16

You could consider hosting it via one of the reference / citation managers, such as CiteULike or Mendeley, which can take imports of Bibtex files. Your own university may (should!) have such a web-front plus publication database available, for you to embed into your university home page. Wordpress If your webpage is hosted directly on wordpress.com, then ...


16

Here is a subject map of science: It is taken from the following paper, freely available from Plos One: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0039464?imageURI=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0039464.g001 I think that this is the sort of thing that you are interested in. N.B. I am not a co-author, nor have I read the paper, so I make ...


16

I have a similar approach with folders, with two additions: Everything goes into a revision control system. In my case, I've got some things in Subversion repositories, and others in Mecurial repositories (I've also dabbled with Git, but haven't made the final transition). The benefits of revision control are that you can always go back to a previous ...


15

A good Revision Control!! I use Git coupled with github being an efficient way (and free) to share and complete a collaboration, especially for code and latex files. Else, google docs is also free, allows to multiple persons to edit the same file at the same time, and you see who is doing what. You can do most "Microsoft Word" formats and things. You have ...


15

Adobe Acrobat has a feature called Shared Review. It lets multiple people in real-time comment on a single PDF so long as the PDF is hosted in a single place (e.g., if your department has network storage or there are services online to host such files). It works pretty well and is already built-in. Alternatively, you can email them each the PDF and then ...


15

Whether a tool works for you or not depends on your work style, so general recommendations are difficult. However, you can use it for example to read digital articles. There are some literature management tools that work well with iOS devices, and you can read any PDF with readers like GoodReader. With the later you can, for example, highlight text and ...


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