What is the average time between papers published in the astronomy community?

I’ve been interested for a while in mining ADS (NASA’s Astrophysics Data System, an online repository of bibliographic records). Using the ADS developer API, it is quite simple to download bibliographical records as JSON data and do some analysis on a sample of astronomical publications.

The full, detailed analysis (with some caveats) is available here. The main plot derived from the reduced dataset  tracks the number of months between successive first-author papers (i.e. between the first and the second, the second and the third, etc.) to test the hypothesis that the rate of publishing papers increases as the author becomes more experienced and entrenched.


On average, the lag between first-author papers decreases steadily from approximately a year and a half (18 months) between the first and the second paper, flattening to approximately 7-8 months by the tenth paper published.

LaTeX2Exp — transform LaTeX strings into R expressions

latex2exp is a new R package that parses and converts LaTeX math formulas into R’s plotmath expressions. Plotmath expressions are used to enter mathematical formulas and symbols to be rendered as text, axis labels, etc. throughout R’s plotting system. I find plotmath expressions to be quite opaque and fiddly; LaTeX is a de-facto standard for mathematical expressions, so this package might be useful to others as well. You can check it out on GitHub.



“Supported” LaTeX

Only a subset of LaTeX is supported, and not 100% correctly. Greek symbols (\alpha, \beta, etc.) and the usual operators (+, -, etc.) are supported. Additionally, the following symbols and operators should be supported: