Enabling More Effective Collaboration: A Q&A With Overleaf Co-founder John Hammersley

August 24, 2017 Helen Eassom

Overleaf, is a collaborative cloud-based tool allowing you and your co-authors to work together on and offline to write and edit your paper. In light of Wiley’s recent partnership with Overleaf, we spoke to co-founder John Hammersley about the service and how authors can benefit from this exciting pilot project.

Q. What inspired you to start Overleaf?

My co-founder and I were writing research papers together with other scientists based in universities around the world, and we found it extremely hard to collaborate; as mathematicians, we were used to using LaTeX for writing our papers, but many of our co-authors were more familiar with Word. Overleaf was created to solve that problem – it allowed us to collaborate with our co-authors on LaTeX documents, without us all having to email files back and forth, and without them having to worry about installing LaTeX on their own machines.

Q. Can you tell us a bit more about what Overleaf is?

Overleaf is a collaborative writing and publishing platform which makes it extremely easy to produce beautifully formatted documents. With a community of over two million authors, it’s the most popular online TeX-based tool for technical writing, and makes the full power of LaTeX available to authors from all disciplines and at all stages of their career s– from college students through to researchers in faculty and in industry.

In case you were wondering, (La)TeX is a hugely popular programming language that produces high quality typesetting – it is used widely throughout scientific and technical disciplines, with growing adoption in the humanities and social sciences thanks to its excellent support for multilingual typesetting. For a brief history of the many flavors of TeX, see this excellent article by my colleague Graham Douglas.

Overleaf allows you to create and edit LaTeX documents –e.g.research papers, project reports, grant applications and more – direct from your browser. There’s nothing to install – you just pick a template and start writing, bringing in your collaborators as you need to. When you’ve completed your manuscript, our integrations within the publishing ecosystem allow you to easily submit your files to wherever you need them to go, whether that’s to a repository, a journal, or simply to your supervisor for a quick review!

Q. How will authors benefit from Wiley’s partnership with Overleaf?

Overleaf is excited to be working with Wiley in a number of ways. First, in an effort to reduce the amount of time authors need to spend tailoring their submissions to the formatting requirements for different journals, we have worked to produce a simple template which can be used to submit to any of the journals in the pilot. This simple template provides authors with guidance on how to prepare their manuscripts, without asking for any complex formatting – this is all handled automatically. Overleaf’s ‘TeXperts’ are also on hand should authors have any questions as they’re writing – we provide support direct to the authors if they need it.

All of the templates for journals participating in Wiley’s pilot with Overleaf can be found in this gallery, or see here for a full list of titles.

Secondly, through our integrations with manuscript management systems Editorial Manager, eJournalPress, and ScholarOne, we are providing direct submission links to allow authors to submit their work directly from Overleaf without the need to download and re-upload files. Where possible, we also pass across selected metadata to help reduce the amount of form-filling required to complete the submission. These direct links will be turned on during the pilot, as they become available.

Finally, we are also partnering with Wiley to provide discounted Overleaf Pro accounts through a custom Wiley portal on Overleaf which give access to all the premium features on Overleaf, such as the full project history mode. The Wiley portal also provides additional help and Q&A on getting started with Overleaf and the Wiley template.

Q. Finally, how do you see Overleaf contributing to the future of scientific research?

Our vision is to make science and research faster and more transparent, saving time by eliminating unnecessary tasks in writing up research, and fuelling scientific and technological innovation by letting researchers collaborate more easily and more effectively.

This all starts by enabling students and early-career researchers to collaborate effectively between themselves and with their supervisors. By providing a platform with a very low barrier to entry – all you need is a web browser – we provide a platform for all users, regardless of their previous levels of experience.

We have made remarkable progress over the past four and a half years, now serving a community of over two million authors – students, researchers, teachers and more – who use Overleaf for their writing and collaborations. We also recognize the value of collaboration within the industry, and enjoy working with partners such as Wiley to help streamline the publishing process for authors and editorial/production teams alike.

This has already been our busiest year to date, and we’re excited to have recently expanded our team to continue building great tools to make scientific and scholarly writing easier, more efficient and more open. Exciting times ahead!

For more information about the Overleaf pilot, please visit Wiley Author Services.

About John Hammersley, Co-Founder & CEO, Overleaf

John Hammersley.jpg

John has always been fascinated by science, space, exploration and technology. After completing a PhD in Mathematical Physics at Durham University in 2008, he went on to help launch the world's first driverless taxi system now operating at London's Heathrow Airport. John’s now making it easier for scientists to collaborate and publish online as CEO and co-founder of Overleaf. John was named as one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars of 2015, is a mentor and alumni of the Bethnal Green Ventures startup accelerator in London, and in his spare time dances (and occasionally teaches) West Coast Swing!

Image Credit: John Hammersley

About the Author

Helen Eassom

Author Marketing, Wiley // Helen is a Marketing Coordinator working within the Author Marketing team for Wiley's Global Research division.

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