Looking for some reassurance - research student

Hi I’m new here I’ve intensively used scrivener for the first time today. (still on trial). Getting the gist of things. Seems pretty powerful, and I think generally people here are pleased with the tool. I am about to start a phd (social science/management) so I am looking for a tool to help me structure my research and write. I know one big word document will become a mess in about five minutes.

I’ve got a few questions, firstly, I am a bit nervous about committing such a big project to a tool I have never used before. IF it goes wrong how painful is it to back out and switch to something like (shudder) word?

I use Mendeley as a reference manager at the moment, I see no issue with continuing with this.

My immediate task is of course the good old-fashioned literature review do you have any tips on setting up your workflow using scrivener for this purpose?

I know that is a lot of questions. I have made some good in roads into using the tool today. Got my first 20 papers imported that I intend to review and do notes from. I’m hoping I can use meta tags etc to categorise and create links. I don’t really want to get overwhelmed with too many other tools.

Thank you Zoe

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at our Interactive Tutorial, available from the Help menu. It’s a good overview of Scrivener’s fundamental operations.

It’s technically very easy to get your work out of Scrivener. You can use the Export command to dump the entire contents of the project into a folder. It’s important to understand, though, that doing so will give you one individual file for each item in the Binder. Whether that is “easy” to transfer to Word will depend on how far along you are. Personally, I would find manually assembling several dozen (or several hundred!) component documents into a single Word file somewhat tedious.

Scrivener’s Compile command (read about it in the Tutorial) will assemble the component documents in the draft into a single file for you. The most basic version you can create is quite simple, but the Compile command supports a high degree of formatting complexity. So if you decide to revert to Word you’ll need to decide whether it’s more painful to format the draft-to-that-point by engaging with the Compile command, or by using Word.

Know that Scrivener Saves automatically every 2 seconds of idling. It creates from 3 up to 25 backups as Zip-files in your User folder, when you close the program. Syncing with Dropbox is possible, when you’re patient enough to make sure Syncing is finished before you sleep or shut down your computer. Same for Onedrive.
Limits are probably working memory or disk space. The Binder layers can be infinitely deep, especially in your Research folder. :wink:

Do note that Mendeley do not currently offer any workflow for bibliography generation in anything outside of Word; you would have to do this manually after you compiled out from Scrivener to
Word. Personally, this would be a complete dealbreaker for me, but YMMV.

Zoe, Scrivener is a fine product for producing a research Ph.D. dissertation. I did it (finished about three years ago) using Scrivener<–>Zotero<–>LibreOffice Writer. I assume that these apps will still “play nice .” Spend a half-hour to see if it will work for you. k

I am a PhD student and use Zotero extensively for reference management and maintaining my notes on them. Much as I would love to I cannot use Scrivener for my academic wrting without an immediate citation link (both for insertion and access to the original reference) – I use them to get from my work in progress writing to check my notes.

If I am wrting for other non academic purposes I will be using Scrivener more and more, I have just upgraded to version 3.

Should add that I have just adopted Scapple for mind mapping my research scope, themes etc and especially for planning my semi-structured oral-history interviews .

The beauty of Scapple is there are limited formatting options so I am not tempted to waste time making working mind maps look pretty. If I need to present them I will switch to Powerpoint, Prezzi or other tool.

I’m not sure what you mean by an “immediate citation link.” Our reference management integration does not create fully formatted citations, but it does create (or more precisely, the reference manager creates) placeholders that uniquely identify the reference.

I appreciate that once can do that and then process the document to replace the placheholders with the final formatted citation.

However as part of my writing/ outlining process I put in the Zotero fully-formatted citation directly into the document as I workl (in Word). It then means I can link from my writing to a reference and my own notes on it. I often use it as a placeholder where I might need to make an argument based on the reference (or indeed multiple references). For instance even before I have decided the exact points I want to make (depends on the developing argument in the paper)_or how much of it I need to quote, or to enable me to check the exact wording or other details as I write. It should be noted I do not always write linearly from start to finish; sometyimes I will put in a citation in my outline where I will need to develop ideas based on the referenced work.

Once I have put a Zotero citation in a Word document it is a live hyperlink (via the Zotero connector) so I can get to the reference and directly to my associated notes in Zotero, with just a few clicks. Then I can clarify my ideas by reference to my notes or cut and paste the quotation from the referenced paper.

NB. This is down to my working methods, it is not a criticism of Scrivener; as I say I have paid for the upgrade to version 3 for other work. I have colleagues who do use Scrtivener for acadermic writing.

I should note add use OneNote extensively for my notes and I am equally critical of its lack of alink to Zotero (or any form of footnotes) as it limits how much of the drafting I can do before switching to Word.

You can do the same for Scrivener, as long as Zotero has app links. I use Bookends, and you can make a hyperlink to any bibliographic entry using bookends://sonnysoftware.com/UUID where UUID is the unique number in the database. My bookends tools for Alfred allow me to search for a reference in a floating window, then paste it as an RTF link into Scrivener. Clicking the link in Scrivener takes you back to Bookends. In theory it is also possible to make RTF that Scrivener will convert into a comment or inline annotation, so you won’t pollute the main document with links, but something has changed in recent macOS and I didn’t get that working (something changed with escaping text in zsh or something similar)…

Even easier (at least with Bookmarks which has an Applescript interface), if you are using bibkeys, you can make a simple script that takes the selected bibkey text and opens a search Bookends, this even works for author+year formatted citations etc.