Keeping research folder linked to drafts

This is a fairly basic question, but I can’t work out how to check whether it has been answered already.

I have been using Scrivener for a while, but haven’t worked out the best way to keep items in the Research folder linked with documents in the drafts folder as I revise the drafts. When I had a lot of categories into which I wanted to sort research materials, I resorted to creating a duplicate of my drafts folder in the research folder, then erasing the documents themselves but keeping the folder structure. I could then drag my research materials into the relevant folders. But that is not a good method, because as soon as the draft gets changed, the research ceases to be linked to it. Also, it leads to research items being duplicated if they are used in more than one draft document. (If I had a really big project, it would be nice to be able to go the other way and select an item in the research folder, and see all the documents linked to it, as a quick way for checking whether I was repeating myself or whether I had made full use of a research source.)

Maybe there is something I could do with tags, metadata or other features that I haven’t really learned to use effectively yet. Up to now I have put each chapter into a separate Scrivener project, which simplifies the problem, but when I get to merge them all, I would be wary of putting all the research materials into a single Scrivener project.

I don’t mind being told that this question is not sufficiently coherent - aside from asking for something miraculous :slight_smile: But maybe someone can point me to a place where people had discussed the best ways to use Scrivener’s features to organise research materials.

You might benefit from approaching research from a different angle. The software wasn’t really designed specifically to work as you are using it, and for such a system to work, extensive automation would be required (which goes a bit against the ethos of the software, as providing open-ended tools rather than rigid workflows). It works better if your approach research topically, or at least using some taxonomy that is similar to topicality. In other words, organise items in the binder in accordance with their own relative context, rather than trying to make multiple sections of the binder act like other sections that are not contexually similar (like research files conforming to a foreign taxonomy like Part One: Chapter Three: Section Five: Subsection Fifteen—when Vegetation: Indigenous Trees would be much more self-documented for a PDF on indigenous trees within the region you are writing about).

So what about binding two different outlines together then? That is what the References pane is for, as well as Scrivener Links placed either as inline annotations in the source material, or in the Documents Notes pane. The program is already wired up to provide a solid binding system between relational items of different types (dissertation content vs. audio files vs. meta-commentary).

This design is in fact meant to scale proportionally to large quantities of material—so you don’t have to approach your project from this fragmented per chapter system you’re using. If research is organised in accordance with its own merits, it becomes more usable as a resource for you (no more of the which chapter was that PDF used in… hunt), and that means you can navigate amongst larger quantities of research without overburdening yourself.

Meta-data, keywords and all of that, can help you out as well by providing another glue layer between outline systems. References and links are going to be the most intuitively direct though. Chapter 12’s folder links to 5 PDFs from various locations in the topical organisation, so you’ve got that resource, and then some sub-section has its own list of material it pulls from. References let you create a heavy infrastructure without the appearance of having one, since each section’s Reference list is invisible to the rest. A chapter can have hundreds of cross-references to the research folder, and that will not create an interface and usage burden when working in another chapter entirely, if that makes sense. Where a folder mirroring system such as you propose would create outline and interface clutter that cannot be as easily and seamlessly ignored.

A nice side-effect of linking is automatic back-linking. If you link Part One: Chapter Three: Section Five: Subsection Fifteen to Vegetation: Indigenous Trees: Johan2008.pdf, then you not only have a direct path to Johan2008.pdf from that section, but a direct path to that section when examining the PDF, and any other sections of the document which refer to it. You research folder becomes a map of usage, and this can greatly ease the editing phase. If you discover an error in the PDF you can quickly find every section using that PDF as a reference and verify that the statements you made while writing are accurate.