This is getting into the weeds even a little more than usual, but I’m sure some of you will be interested in these developments in academic writing. Everyone hacks together a system for researching, source management, word processing, and the like. None of it seems to work exceedingly well. It looks like we may have hope.
Michael Clarke: 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the authoring system, or “YAS” as future historians will undoubtedly call it. If you are an author that is fed up with writing your papers using ancient tools like Microsoft Word, at wits end wrestling with the genial and sleek but ultimately disappointing Google Docs, or are simply looking to master a new software package, your prayers have been answered. New authoring systems specializing in the workflows of researchers, scholars, and students are proliferating like drones over Silicon Valley. Organizations that have recently released or are developing authoring systems of one flavor or another include Overleaf, Manuscript.app, Dartmouth Journal Services, Authorea, River Valley, PLOS, and the American Psychological Association. Like new organisms exploiting a particular ecological niche in the midst of Cambrian explosion, these systems have different features and different aims. Overleaf was designed for mathematicians and other users of LaTeX. APA Style Central is designed to help students learn to write using APA style. Other systems are designed to export structured XML, thereby reducing (publisher) costs (presumably this savings will filter back to authors in the form of reduced page charges or APCs). Will more authoring systems join the field before the period drops in Times New Roman Square and the YAS reaches its full stop? It is hard to know. But I for one plan to order an extra supply of coffee pods, delete my SnapChat account, ground my fleet of recreational drones, put my Oculus Rift under lock and key, give the puppy an extra bone, hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door, and start writing.