Why LaTeX with Language Science Press?

Benefits and Challenges of Publishing with Language Science Press

The Association for Contemporary African Linguistics has repeatedly considered what the best venue is for publishing the proceedings of the ACAL conference. It is crucial to our mission that the ACAL proceedings be Open Access and therefore freely accessible on the web. It is unacceptable to us that our proceedings publications would be unavailable to Africa-based scholars, and Open Access addresses that potential issue. However, many avenues to Open Access publication are prohibitively expensive.

The association has concluded that Language Science Press (LSP) is the best available option at this time for publishing our proceedings. It is low-cost (financially), it publishes high quality work, it has received broad support from the linguistics academic community, and its publications are both freely downloadable as PDF files from its website and can also be purchased in hard copy via print-on-demand. You can find past ACAL proceedings at the page for our LSP Series Contemporary African Linguistics.

The major challenge for us to publish with LSP is that they require submissions to be in LaTeX format. The main reason for this, as we understand it, is that this eliminates additional stages of typesetting at later points in the publication process. We are well aware that not everyone is trained in LaTeX, and also, writing in LaTeX has a steep learning curve. But at the same time, conversion of proceedings papers from Word into LaTeX has been creating an extraordinary workload for the editors of proceedings volumes, which has also created a large time lag in publishing our proceedings. We have concluded that, as a community, we have to do better about submitting papers in LaTeX formats to reduce the burden on editors.

In 2019 ACAL formed a LaTeX committee whose mandate is to build LaTeX capacity within the ACAL community. We are developing a multi-pronged approach to building LaTeX capacity that includes:

  1. Expecting final versions of ACAL proceedings papers to be submitted either in LaTeX or in LaTeX-compatible formats.
  2. Creating resources to make it easier and less intimidating for ACAL members to learn LaTeX, with specific instructions for Africanist linguists. These resources are aggregated here.
  3. Holding LaTeX workshops at ACAL meetings to train ACAL members at different levels of expertise on LaTeX skill sets. These were planned for ACAL 51 at Rutgers, which was unfortunately canceled. We plan to hold such workshops at all future ACAL meetings.
  4. Maintaining a “LaTeX helpdesk” of sorts; ACAL members with a LaTeX issue can write acal.latex@gmail.com and request help solving their problem.
  5. Requiring all scholars who have sufficient resources to hire people to convert their papers to LaTeX (e.g. grad students, ACAL LaTeX staffers, etc).
  6. Requiring all scholars who cannot pay for LaTeX conversion to instead facilitate conversion of their own papers to LaTeX by strictly following the MSWord template provided by Language Science Press and by converting their bibliography to LaTeX-compatible formats. This will be enabled by us …
  7. Creating a “LaTeX-free” guide for how to write papers in LaTeX-compatible formats that will be relatively easy to convert fully to LaTeX later.

Altogether, our goal is to empower ACAL members to submit proceedings papers in LaTeX format in order to facilitate the publication of volumes and lessen the workload on volume editors, which has become close to prohibitive. We believe that ACAL proceedings are a centrally important venue for research on Africanist linguistics, but to maintain their availability we need to come together as a community to support the proceedings on an ongoing basis, rather than leaving the entirety of the task to volume editors.

You will see below that our main submission methods and training documents are published via the internet-based application Overleaf. It is our intention to develop resources that are accessible via download that don’t require consistent internet access, but we have not accomplished this yet. If you need these resources, please let us know at acal.latex@gmail.com so we can work on ways to assist you.