A blog about free research software, alternative to commercial paid software.

One way to help people is to share your knowledge with those who could benefit from it. As a researcher , constant effort to solve scientific problems have exposed me to various scientific resources that can be accessed free of charge. Especially these knowledge is useful to labs and institution unable to access expensive software or novice users due to lack of expertise. In this blog, I have provided a comprehensive list of freely available softwares, alternative to commercial software. I shall share with you all that I have learned, as I make the changes or learn something new, I shall document them. Hope this blog will help those finding the way………….

Research software and books

Jan 30, 2011

Latex Vs Word

Research in any field is incomplete unless the results are disseminated to the wider community. Publishing is important for yourself, your organization, your scientific colleagues and your funders. It improves your career, since your work will be seen as good quality and reliable. In this section of the blog I will discuss information regarding freely available writing and bibliography management software, Tips and tricks to write scientific articles, good resources and online article to learn scientific writing.

The choice of a document design system is a huge decision for any researcher. Two fundamentally different systems dominate the market for producing research and technical documents: Microsoft Word and LaTeX (or TeX for the most proficient users). In Microsoft Word, the writer can immediately see where on each page the text, figures, equations, etc., that he or she adds will appear. While latex needs,  entire  text and the references to all graphical elements into a coded text file, which then is compiled into a final document. The LaTeX software handles the pagination, spacing, margins, orphan control, figure placement and many other small details and so the document looks professional even when prepared by a novice. In addition, LaTeX is greatly suited for writing large manuscripts. Even a thousand-page book full of graphics can be compiled with LaTeX using very modest hardware.

Recommending a  single document system is difficult since  different fields use different tools, and since most research teams now span disciplines, deciding on a single authoring tool becomes critical. For example, in business, law, medicine, and most professional communication, Microsoft Word unquestionably dominates. However, Latex is the choice in certain fields of hard sciences, like mathematics, physics, or engineering.

Why to use Latex?

Since word is mostly preferred based on the ease of use, if at all if you need to use latex you will consider its advantage.

  •     LaTeX enforces proper typesetting.

  •     LaTeX is stable. It does not crash that easily and has low machine memory requirements.

  •     Automatic figure positioning is far more efficient in LaTeX than in Microsoft Word.

  •      LaTeX does provide some advantages over Microsoft Word, particularly for very long and very complex technical documents.

Advantages of Microsoft Word over LaTeX

  •      Microsoft Word is ubiquitous. In most cases, co-writing with groups from different companies or across industry and academia is a lot easier with Microsoft Word than with LaTeX.

  •     Such features as spell-check, grammar check, WYSIWYG, track changes, word count, line numbering, and the manuscript marking system are more powerful and convenient with Microsoft Word.

  •      Microsoft Word is easier to use for novices.

  •      Microsoft Word now has many handy multi-authoring tools built in.

  •     Reuse of figures and text is easier when using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint together.