Discourse for Academic Use Features (Done and to be Done)

I want to have a special topic about how to use Discourse for Academic Use.

1. What we already have?

Markdown Supporting.

Html Supporting

OneBox Feature

MathJax Supporting with plugin.

 - git clone https://github.com/kasperpeulen/discourse-mathjax

I have to say it was conflict with another plugin “iframe”. If you have iframe plugin, you have to delete it.

Also another plugin can do it:

Footnote and Reference


DOI resolver


Print long topic to PDF, etc


Outside Websites Support(Boxes & etc.)

  1. github.com support
  2. arxiv support

Plotting Tools

CCS support

Team Topics

2. What we want to have?


P.S. You can reply me about the functions that you think are important for academic use in discourse and whether it has been developed already or in developing.


Like oneboxing some academic websites?

  • Oneleaf?

  • Google Drive/Dropbox?

Are these supported already?

I’m assuming you mean overleaf, not “oneleaf”?

That and google docs were demonstrated in your previous topic:

Google drive & Dropbox also onebox in the same way.

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Sorry, I think it is

which supports Latex Collaborative Writing and Publishing.

What is one-leaf, seems to be a forum.


Excellent idea to start this topic!

I’d consider a highlighting plugin (or even as a core function) extremely useful for the academic context, but also for other communities where posts might be a bit longer so that highlights would be a great way of finding the most important parts of those posts. I proposed the highlighting feature in more detail here:


Actually I’m really wondering What do we need for academic use?

For different areas, the tools are so different.

Like in Physics, Math, we just need Latex and some curving tool.

In Computer science, maybe the coding tool? or we may need some “Select as the right answer” tool in bug fix questions like in the stackoverflow

In Chemistry, we may need some drawing tool?

In Logic, we may need the logical icons?

As a matter of fact, I think it is quite good to have markdown and latex and the other tools listed befor

But how to make people come and discuss on the web? How to provide the best service when talking about academic problems?

By the way, it is very good to have a highlight tool


Hi, I found a list.

I’m wondering how many of these tools can be and should be integrated into Discourse.


How about a literature database that makes it easy to include references in posts?

A few thoughts on such a literature plugin:

  1. I guess there is no point in creating a database in discourse from scratch, given existing solutions such as zotero, mendeley, endnote and (hopefully soon) Citavi Web.
  2. To start with, I think the focus should be on supporting zotero, since it’s free and open source (and perhaps there will never be a need to support anything else).
  3. My idea would be that the plugin acts as an interface between a dedicated zotero database and the discourse forum.
  4. Starting with an empty db, a user who wants to add a reference (via a button in the editor) gets the option to add a new reference (not sure if this should be done with a dedicated discourse ui or simply using the existing zotero ui, but the user should not have to leave discourse to do it)
  5. Once there are records in the db, users can search them and paste them into their post while editing.
  6. The citation style should probably be fixed via a site setting (cite setting :stuck_out_tongue:)
  7. There should be a dedicated bibliography page where all db records are listed in alphabetical order with to all the posts where the respective item is cited.

Now, the last point is where it becomes tricky: Since this type of linking is analogous to how discourse already works, the best way to achieve this might be to create a post for every reference, but I’m not sure about this, since there should only be one record for each item and that should be in zotero, I suppose.

But it would also be conceivable that the zotero database is used merely as a way of quickly insert text which would then live a life of its own, without any links, but that would defeat the purpose of making it easy to find all posts citing a specific text.

Any comments or ideas?


Zotero is great if you really need to build your own literature database (with all the advantages & disadvantages of this route). I originally had Zotero attached to a Wordpress/bbPress forum, but have moved away from that approach and am using this instead:

For a use case where you basically just want to assist users in providing correct litterature references, I find this a much more practical approach. Check out the demo video below, I would LOVE to see this kind of functionality available on Discourse. It would really help to open it up for academic scenarios.


Here is the latest addition to your collection:


Download PDF feature may support the possibility to upload the document to obtain a DOI number from, say https://zenodo.org/. My interest is to have a feature (or through a plugin) to submit and obtain DOI number to a selected or featured topics using the API available from http://developers.zenodo.org/#rest-api through a click of a button (available for the staff users).


Github support

Hi, I think this post should be updated multi-times. So this list should at least can be re-edited by myself. I can’t re-edit my historical posts Now.


I made the OP a wiki, so you can edit it now.


Supporting co‑author discussions

I am posting here and not to the wiki‑posting at the top because I am not sufficiently sure of my facts.

I was recently asked to use a new discourse forum I admin as a location for discussing an evolving academic paper as it wends its way through formal peer review. The academic context in this case is multi‑disciplinary numerical energy system analysis — but particular discipline involved should not be especially relevant. Therefore:

  • Use‑case: using a discourse instance to discuss evolving modifications to a paper (in this instance requiring “substantial revisions”!)

  • Explanation: discourse will be used solely for discussion — the actual edits, the document preparation that is, will take place elsewhere (say Google Docs, Overleaf, MS Teams, or GitLab)

  • Requirements: the discussions should be completely private to the author list and visible to no one else (admins excepted)

One solution

I think I first need to create a group with just the co‑authors, say “u4ria‑goals‑authors”. And then a category, say “U4ria goals”. And lock that category and then make it accessible only to the co‑authors group.

One question that arises is that can I make a category “Papers” and then a “U4RIA goals” subcategory and then map “u4ria‑goals‑authors” to just that subcategory?


Stepping back, perhaps the wider use‑case of private discussions should be worked up more by the discourse devs and discourse community — to see if specific support and better documentation might help in this context? With best wishes, R

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That’s what to do.

That’s right too.

The documentation that you send both exists and isn’t needed for you since you already understand how it works without reading it (did you search “category group”, for example?) :wink:

See How to create private categories using category security settings to confirm that what you thought you knew is in fact correct!