How to do cross-references in SciFlow

SciFlow is one of several options when it comes to collaborative writing. I like the intuitive interface, but sometimes it can be hard to see some useful features built in — like cross-references to other sections and figures/tables. This is super easy in SciFlow.

Let’s start with a new document. In this example, I have two sections on the left, with a table in Section 2. I have also pressed the “outline” button to see the document outline on the right.

In this example, I want to add a cross-reference to section 2 at the end of the “Main text” section. I simply select the section I want to refer to on the right

and drop it in the text where I want the cross-reference to appear.

Here we go, the placeholder for the cross-reference is included.

We can cross-reference figures and tables in the same way. Select the figure or table on the right (note the “Figures, Tables & Equations” below the list of sections),

and drag it

into the main text:

At the time of writing, the placeholder makes no distinction between figures and tables, but it’s just a placeholder…

A bit like when using LaTeX, in SciFlow you use “What You See is What You Mean”, so the output will probably look different from what you have on the screen. Indeed, this is a strength of SciFlow, both in that it allows you to export in many formats, and in that it prevents you from spending hours tinkering with the formatting. Unlike some other online editors, SciFlow is good at producing Word documents that are commonplace in the social sciences (many journals insist on a Word document during submission), or PDF, as you like. You choose the style and can readily change that style because SciFlow separates content from form.

Here’s that little section in one style:

and here in another style:

There you go, placeholders replaced with the relevant text depending on the template used.

SciFlow does Spelling and Grammar

Just a short shout that SciFlow has been checking spelling and grammar for a bit now. It’s an integration of LanguageTool, a bit like the suggestion I mentioned before. Integration is nice, but depending on the length of the document, it can take a while because the entire document is checked.

For a fuller description, see the post at SciFlow.

Could not connect to SciFlow

In the past few days, I could not log into SciFlow:

Something went wrong.
No session found

Please try again. If the problem persist, please reach out to
support@sciflow.net.

Well, I did contact the excellent customer service, and it turns out that they tweaked their cookie settings. Which simply means: clear out your SciFlow cookies, and keep writing!

More Support and Templates in SciFlow

SciFlow is an online editor for academics. They have recently updated and expanded the documentation, so should you ever get stuck, here’s how to. That said, the interface is pretty intuitive, so I’m not sure you’ll ever need to navigate to the support pages for basic editing.

There are some useful hints, though, like using zbib (Zotero) with Sciflow (instructions here). This gets pretty close to Authorea’s citation feature, and is also useful for collaborative texts (and doesn’t suffer from the slowness of direct Zotero/Mendeley connections if you have a large database of references).

The SciFlow team have also recently updated the Templates feature:

There are many journal styles to choose from. It’s not quite (yet) like typeset.io, but the social sciences are not well covered by typeset anyway. SciFlow offers some useful templates, but in most cases, it’s necessary to do some finishing before submitting to a journal. On the other hand, there’s a template for minutes — that’s useful for anyone working in a team, and who isn’t?

In most cases the generic templates will do, including the SciFlow templates which support many common citation styles.

Collaborative writing in SciFlow now with Zotero

This deserves mentioning: The collaborating writing service SciFlow now supports Zotero. You can find instructions here and here; all you need is an account with Zotero for syncing. Like the Mendeley link they provide, fetching references from the connected (Zotero) account can be a bit sluggish if you have a large library. If you’re a student writing up a term paper or a Master thesis, you will probably not notice this. If you have a more substantial collection of references, you will notice this. A downside of the Zotero link is that it searches your complete library, including notes and extracted annotations if you have this. I would have liked a more selective sync to speed up things.

So I’m still waiting for a reference search like in Authorea or ZoteroBib. With the many export styles to choose from, SciFlow easily beats Google Docs, and it works in a limited way on a mobile phone (you can log in and edit the text, but formatting etc. are now disabled in recent versions).