First Publication (part 2)
Posted by Pete Hague on 08 Sep 2012
As promised, I am continuing my series of posts on the process of preparing and submitting my first paper.
I've had an incredibly busy week, with two main events I want to talk about.
Yesterday, I was in Glasgow for the DiRAC Science Day. DiRAC is the name for the high performance computing funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which funds current and future HPC facilities here at Leicester. This meeting was an opportunity for people who had used these computers to show some of their research, and I prepared a poster to show mine.
I've converted the poster into PNG format here, as the vector graphics in the PDF version will slow your computer to a crawl. This is an unfortunate consequence of the way the R programming language outputs filled contour plots.
The poster by no means encompasses all the work I have done; the purpose of it is purely to give people a taste of what the research is about. The paper in its current form runs to 17 pages - I don't want to give the impression that the contents of that poster represents the entirety of my PhD work so far.
The early part of my week was split between preparing for the DiRAC day. It was especially stressful as I forgot which day my flight was on, had to beg the printing people to get my poster printed and laminated quicker than the 3 days they normally make you wait, and had my hotel booking messed up and my room given away the day before I travelled! Once I got back, however, I returned to working on the paper and had a nasty shock.
I had, as I have previously mentioned, sent the paper to my supervisor for him to edit it for a while, and he sent it me back after the DiRAC day. Reading his version, it quickly became apparent that I had somehow sent him an earlier version of the paper, without all the edits I had done. The document was now forked - two versions of it had branched off with different edits, and I had to spend basically all of Friday reunifying them into a single version.
I hadn't implemented formal version control, and that was foolish of me. I kept a single file and a backup, and deleted everything else - but clearly my backup ended up being edited as the most recent copy. In my defence, this paper is probably the most complex, most heavily edited document I have produced to date. What this has impressed upon me is that I need to examine my working patterns - the ones I currently have, though they have served me well up to this point, might break down for the more complex work I am doing now.
That is all for the moment. As I'm currently have the paper, I'm going to be pressing on with it over the weekend and all next week. Another update may be pending if I reach another editing milestone.
Posted by Rob Hague on 08 Sep 2012
Very interesting poster; will the paper be publically available when published? Also, version control EVERYTHING - scripts and Makefiles as well as your actual code and documents. I assume you're writing in LaTeX, which is very amenable to VC. If you've not settled on a system yet, I'd recommend git, but I've also heard good things about Mercurial.