Distributed Team Writing Tool

AbstractThe 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).

Useful Features

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)

Image of young EPLF fighters from Eritrea's independence struggle.