Introduction #

This is the Introduction to Plaintext for Research and Writing, a short book that will help you adopt open-source plaintext software to conduct your investigations and write up your findings. It was originally conceived of during the Spring of 2022, when I, Timothy Elder, became obsessed with avoiding my actual work and instead focused on making pretty documents and good visualizations.

That structured procrastination led to a series of workshops hosted and supported by the Center for International Social Science Research at the University of Chicago, and Jenny Trinitapoli in particular. It will be helpful to undergraduate and graduate students taking courses in computation, statistics, or general social science methods courses. You’ll need to know just a little bit about how your computer works, and be willing to learn a lot more to take full advantage of these resources. Though I take great pains to make adopting these software as painless and straight forward as possible, I may assume foreknowledge that you don’t already possess.

This site and the book are both works in progress and so don’t be surprised if there is some substantial change to the content or structure of this work, though I do not foresee anything being cut. Mostly additions are expected. If there is something that you think is an error, or you want another topic covered you can open an issue on the GitHub repo for this site, or directly contact me.

Happy Trails

— Tim

book cover.