Distributed Team Writing Tool
The purpose of this paper is to explain how a disconnected team of writers can collaborate on a research paper using authorea.com.
Authorea.com is a web-based tool geared towards the academic research community. While the work of this group is not technically considered “academic research”, some members have produced papers at par with the academic research community (minus the citation of non-academic sources). Still, Authorea is the only tool I can currently find that offers important features that can be useful to a disconnected team of writers (see comparison to Google docs below). Although Authorea offers great features, its not perfectly suited for non-academic papers due to lack of features and inflexible restrictions (see restrictions and work-around solutions below). Lastly, I think the best thing about Authorea is how easy it is to start using it, even if you are a solo writer (I wrote this short paper on Authorea as a way to test the system).
Here is a brief list of features Authorea offers:
Multiple writers collaborate on one paper (also offered by Google docs) (Riley-Huff 2010)
Automatic locking of paper sections (not offered by Google docs) http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/docs/HBB8p5ke9lQ
Search and cite academic sources within Authorea (may not be that important for us but also not offered by Google docs) (Zegeye 2008)
Add citations from non-academic sources by adding manually to citation system (not offered by Google docs) (Staff 2013)
Add images by drag/drop (also offered by Google docs) (see below)
Comments per individual paper section (not offered by Google docs)
Export to PDF or Latex format
Ability for writers to see how the entire paper reads and writing content to fit the theme or style of other writers (not exactly a feature but a good bi-product of features)
Like I said earlier, Authorea has great features but it also has a few irritating limitations. Here are some of those limitations with possible work-around solutions.
Can’t easily cite external sources. Solution: manually modify biblio section (its actually easy, ask me if you need help) (Staff 2013).
Can’t export in Word format (only PDF and Latex is supported). Solution: can be to use Authorea for collaboration and copy/paste content manually from Authorea to Word when finished. Another solution: is to convert PDF or Latex to Word and perform final editing work on then.
Unable to mix images in with text. Images need to have their own section (no work-around for this and might not be a big issue).
Free accounts only have one private article. Solution: Articles that are still in “Rough Draft” mode are not made public; simply keep articles in this mode, export them when complete and publish manually to your Blogs or the usual websites.