How do I find a reliable person to do some computer work for me?
March 6, 2006 2:23 PM   Subscribe

I need some computer work done for me and I'm not sure how to find someone to do it.

I have written a 30 page singlespaced Microsoft Word paper, with about 250 EndNote references, and 20 figures, in both Excel and Harvard Graphics.

I need to get it into the format demanded by a major academic journal before I can submit it. The journal wants it; they, and my co-author, are waiting on me. Writing it was hard enough; refactoring it to these standards (of near-camera ready copy, with zillions of font and style guidelines) without breaking the EndNote bits is beyond my computer skills and current reserves of time and energy.

It doesn't need content, copy or style editing; just extensive reformatting (to meet Acta Scandinavica Neurologica's guidelines) and integration of all the figures.

How do I find someone who has real proficiency in these black arts, has all 4 of those software packages available, and can give me a quote and then get this done on a schedule? (and who won't post my opus to the internets or other shadiness.)

How much should I expect something like this to cost? I'm tentatively thinking half a grand or so - is that ridiculous?

I'm in San Francisco.
posted by ikkyu2 to Work & Money (14 answers total)
I've emailed you, ikkyu2.
posted by zadcat at 3:10 PM on March 6, 2006

It's at this moment where people regrets not have learned LaTeX
posted by zouhair at 3:17 PM on March 6, 2006

Well, this would require a specialized skill set, you're average hacker isn't going to know much about how to do this, beyond maybe using TeX to do their own academic papers.

If I were in your position I'd probably waste my time and try to do it myself, but barring that I'd look toward an academic prepress service at a local university. Googling for "academic prepress services" looked promising to me, you could email them and ask for spec prices given the journal requirements.
posted by delmoi at 3:20 PM on March 6, 2006

You wouldn't happen to have a link to an online copy of the requirements would you?
posted by delmoi at 3:25 PM on March 6, 2006

This will probably not be cheap. You don't want a geek or computer service, you're looking at hiring a production editor.

Can you dump it to RTF and turn the EndNote references into just plain text instead of objects? If you can do that and re-import the resulting text back into Word, that would simplify the problem -- then you'd only be looking for someone to rejigger a Word document.

It's at this moment where people regrets not have learned LaTeX

Yyyyeah, but. I've had to turn perfectly good LaTeX papers into RTF because the production staff wanted to start with Word-compatible text.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:08 PM on March 6, 2006

When I look at their submission guidelines, they don't seem to want what you think they want. I think you just need a double spaced copy, use the correct template in endnote and submit the figures digitally (they have instructions).
posted by 445supermag at 5:30 PM on March 6, 2006

ikkyu2 - If I had the time, and I was a little more current with publishing guidlines, I'd do it for free. I'm guessing someone else on here will be willing to do it for free or a token sum. You've definitely payed your dues here, and my take is that it hasn't gone unnoticed.
posted by bh at 6:47 PM on March 6, 2006

My other suggestion would be to contact some other authors who have been published in said journal and ask what they did. Googling for the specs didn't turn up anything too technical, so I'm guessing you have more specific guidelines?

If you could post the required specs, that would help out a lot.
posted by delmoi at 6:50 PM on March 6, 2006

What font requirements could they have above and beyond monospaced/serif/sans-serif? Just curious--it seems ludicrous to my non-medical-journal-submitting-ass that they would require Futura-for-this and Caslon-for-that.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:04 PM on March 6, 2006

Treating this as an economic question, for the sake of argument (bh might well be right about other offers)...

I think your $500 guess is about right. Not knowing EndNotes, I suspect a lot of the work will be manual. It might end up taking a 5-10 minutes a page plus time to learn the required journal format and how that will relate to each application. So, 10 hours work +/- 20% at a rate between $50 and $100/hour.

The right person - somebody who already knows EndNotes and Harvard, has attention to detail, and academic experience - might be able to do it in significantly less time.
posted by Chuckles at 11:42 PM on March 6, 2006

The right person ... might be able to do it in significantly less time.

Specifically, because they may be able to automate steps.
posted by Chuckles at 11:45 PM on March 6, 2006

On further review of the journals requirements... It doesn't look like they want camera ready to me - of course experience is a much better guide than my potentially flawed reading of their online guidelines.

It looks like you could submit it as straight text (no formatting, no inline figures, they do mention that using styles is a good thing). So long as references are in the prescribed format. In fact, some of the requirements make it sound like they would prefer that you do not format:
Figure legends must be typed on a separate page at the end of the manuscript. Where possible, authors should send digital versions of each figure saved as a separate file in TIFF or EPS format. See for more information on submitting electronic artwork.
And by navigating a bit around that URL you find this:
What recommendations are there for producing my electronic document?
Try and avoid excessive formatting. Lay out your text so that the headings and sections are clearly defined. Where several levels of headings are required, ensure each is clearly styled. Use a standard font for your text, Times New Roman/Times and Arial/Helvetica are recommended. Use the Symbol font for symbols and Greek characters. Always submit a hard copy of each figure so we have something with which to compare the electronic files. top

What should I do with tables?
Include these at the end of your manuscript. Where available use the table function in your software. Place each table item in its own cell. Avoid using the return key to format or to add spacing to the table. top

What should I do with figures?
We can use your electronic figures. If you have used a computer to create your figures then please include these files in your submission. It gives you the opportunity to see your own work in print as you intended it to appear. It also helps prevent errors and enables us to reduce the time it takes to publish your paper.
They aren't communicating very well, but it does sound like they are trying to make life easy for authors...
posted by Chuckles at 4:26 AM on March 7, 2006

Echoing Chuckles. Unless you've received another letter with a new set of formatting instructions (this happens), they're not asking for what you think they're asking for. They seem to want nearly-unformatted so that their production editors don't have to undo lots of stuff. Frex, they don't seem to want figures integrated at all -- just a page with the legend or caption, and the graphic included as a separate file.

Converting to eps might seem tricky but ain't. There are a few steps:

(1) Install ghostscript. Free.
(2) Install ghostview. Free.
(3) Install a postscript printer (ie, an Apple laserwriter)
(4) Select the graphic you want to convert
(5) Select the postscript printer instead of the normal one
(6) Print to file, with a filename of whatever.eps. Excel might helpfully turn that into whatever.eps.prn ; if so, delete the .prn from the name.
(7) Open in ghostview to see that it converted successfully.

If you happen to have Distiller (which you gotta pay for), it's even easier.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:39 AM on March 7, 2006

Frex, they don't seem to want figures integrated at all -- just a page with the legend or caption, and the graphic included as a separate file.

This is where it gets kind of confusing for me. If they don't want figures integrated, they really should be much more specific about exactly what information they want - an example maybe? Also, what you are allowed to control - can you tell them to insert Figure 1 between paragraph 18 and 19, or do they prefer that you stay out of that kind of decision?

Anyway, ikkyu2, how is this going? I'd love to help more, but...
posted by Chuckles at 5:34 PM on March 8, 2006

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