Problem with my supervisor on Mac and PC incopatibilities

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by hildegueden, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. hildegueden macrumors member


    May 1, 2008

    I’m a Ph D student (first 6 months) and I’ve been working pretty well with my supervisor and my team group.. up to now.

    I’m writing a publication and serious difficulties have started to come out because of incompatibility. I use Latex (TexShop) to write publications and they use Word and EndNote. I can not use them because Latex is far a way better for this purpose than the aforementioned, and it’s free, the others are not. Also, I’m a mac user, they are PC, therefore I use freeware software for plotting, they use Originlab. I tried to convinced them to try what I use, but it was useless.

    I was happy with the “think differently” slogan but now I’m worry because paper production efficiency has been slowed down because of this issue. Yesterday I almost cried because I realized that my team and the publications are more important for me than the tools I use, so I'd better speak my team language. But yet I love latex and macs (I hate Word and PCs).

    What do you suggest I do? Thanks a lot.
  2. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    Don't try pushing TeX on other people, especially your coworkers and superiors. You're going to have to start using Word.
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    My PhD supervisor complained about my LaTeX usage as well, but only because he sucks with computers. Everyone else switched to writing papers, and their thesis/dissertation, in LaTeX. Took a total of around 6 months for most of us to make the transition, and we all did it voluntarily, sort of like a chain reaction. Before he knew it, we were all using LaTeX, and he had enough of it.

    He said he couldn't comment and make corrections to papers like he wrote in MS Word, which is true. That feature is pretty useful for research supervisors, but it's only available in MS Word. You need to understand that. Luckily, he found a way to put his comments in notes throughout the PDF, so that ended up OK.

    But yes, you're right. Your "team language" is more important than the tools you use. Being able to send files to each other that are compatible with everyone else's computer is important. :p Luckily, the other PhD students and 1 or 2 of the other supervisors/professors were OK with this quick transition towards LaTeX that was taking place. :)

    I used Excel for graphing and keeping track of data, and LaTeX for writing. At the end of your PhD, you'll probably have to hand in a digital copy of all your data (along with a PDF of your thesis). What are they going to do with files they can't recognise?
  4. DesignerGenes macrumors member

    May 4, 2009
    Omaha, NE
    What about pages '09?

    It's compatible with EndNote and Word.

    To me it's worth paying a little bit for some software if it eliminates a headache.
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    How does Pages eliminate a headache? It isn't a good Word substitute if you need to do real work, and it still doesn't offer him the advantages of LaTeX. Without any benefit over MS Word other than simplicity (which is probably a disadvantage in his position), there's no reason to switch to Pages.
  6. hildegueden thread starter macrumors member


    May 1, 2008
    I use pages for my schemes and quickly weekly reports. But neither Word nor Pages are for publishing, especially when they have to handle tons of cross references, equations, figures, etc.

    I also tried the “hard copy” solution but it didn't work. After the third corrected draft I went into desperation and I said: “The paper is too difficult for me (especially because of my lack of experience in publishing)” and he replied “well.. If I could modify the electronic version...”. That was when I got in shock.

    I've already made my decision after reading your replies. I love very much this team group and my co-workers (a postdoc word user is also co-working with me in the paper) and the way the work and their publishing rate. I didn't got on this PhD business to “work differently” but to learn how to publish. So I can only say “thank God it exists word and EndNote for Mac” (for the time being). I've already said to my supervisor that further modifications on the paper I would do them in Word and EndNote and he kindly replied to me “Thanks. Sorry but I’m too old to learn new software” (He recognizes the superiority of Latex). So I will have to wait until he dies or until I become boss... to come back to Latex.

    Thanks everybody for their replies. :)
  7. yojitani macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2005
    An octopus's garden
    For the record, I would highly discourage Ph.D. students from using Pages. Word compatibility is poor with heavily formatted documents, you can't easily merge documents (cut and paste only), spell and grammar check is not so great (although not too bad) and the format check (extra spaces, that sort of thing) doesn't seem to exist.
  8. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    try sending it to him as a PDF. You can make comments to a pdf very easily. I also like PDFs because no matter what program they use for writing it always looks the same. If he that stupid that he can not make comments in a PDF form I do not know what to tell you besides he is an idiot.

    Problem when using word or any of those is how it appears will be different from program to program. Hell it can and will look different computer to computer as things get a little wonky some times.
  9. djjclark macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2008
    Origin runs just fine in Fusion but it is spendy.
  10. dmr727 macrumors G3


    Dec 29, 2007
    Like someone else said, you're not going to be able to push LaTeX on anyone else, but why not just deliver your papers in PDF form? Or have them download one of the many free Postscript viewers out there?
  11. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I wouldn't try to convince them and if the team is using word and end-note, for synergy and working well together, you'll be better served to switch over to the dark side. Either using office mac, vmware fusion or bootcamp.
  12. Sehnsucht macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2008
    What's wrong with MS Word? I have Home and Student for Mac and I like it.

    MS makes good software, operating systems not so much. :cool:
  13. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Have you tried Endnote? It's amazing, so crucial when I was writing my Masters Thesis. No offense but I tried LaTex in my undergrad and dude, it's not exactly "user friendly". Be a team player man.
  14. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I will say if some one gave me something in laTex I would kick it back and say give it to me in word or PDF.
  15. Berlepsch macrumors 6502


    Oct 22, 2007
    As other users pointed out, commenting PDFs might be a possibility. From my experiment however, in-text editing with the track changes function in Word is simply more efficient; especially when it comes to restructuring sentences or paragraphs. For me and my colleagues, this has become standard for publishing research papers, although Word is full of things that are simply annoying.

    There is one really bad thing that I have noticed with Word and longer texts such as a thesis: problems tend to come up rather late in the process, when the nerves are already on the edge. With LaTeX, this rarely happens - of course it has its own pitfalls (e.g. figure placements, bibtex references), but you learn to cope with them from an early stage.

    As far as Origin is concerned, I don't know of any program, Windows or Mac, that makes it so easy to go from raw data, analyse them and build complex, paper-ready graphs. Unfortunately, the current version turned out to be a monster, slow and ugly (but at least it works in a virtual Windows). Sometimes when I work with it, I imagine what possibilities MacOS X would offer for a much more beautiful and creative application - but unfortunately, no-one has written it yet.
  16. hildegueden thread starter macrumors member


    May 1, 2008
    I agree. I’ve been using this:

    for plotting and up to now it is enough for my needs. But again, Origin is widely use by scientists and it is the standard. Even though I have it, I can not use it because I have a MBA and Parallels + Windows + Origin...they all put a lot of strength on my mac and it becomes very slow. So, what is the closes thing to Origin in what plotting and treatment of experimental data concerns?
  17. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    In scientific publishing, TeX and LaTeX are the standard.
  18. cristo macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2008
    I really feel for you here! It's probably not going to be possible for you to change the whole group to work in latex, though that doesn't mean you shouldn't try! Just out of interest, what subject area are you in? If you're doing anything that needs equations, then I would have thought latex was the standard (as mentioned above, it is the standard in scientific publishing). In fact, call me biased, but whenever I see a pre-print, say, that is typeset in Word, I question the merit of it, just because it looks crap!

    Still, you'll probably end up having to fall in line with your boss ultimately. You could try showing him papers written in latex; I can't see how anyone would think the word version looks better. Anyway, I would certainly say you should write your thesis in latex: just thinking about writing it in word makes me cringe!

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