Scrivener for scientific writing?

Anyone out there using Scrivener for scientific writing? I write a lot of papers in standard APA format. Currently I use Mellel as the word processor and Bookends as the reference manager. That combination works very well.

I start the writing process with a mind map in a Moleskine journal. I like doing that process away from the computer.

What I’m looking for is something to help me organize my thoughts into a structure for the paper. Something in between the mind map and writing phase. The corkboard/synopsis feature of Scrivener looks like an interesting possibility. I’ve also played with OmniOutliner for this purpose, but somehow I like the notecard model better. Of course I could just get a huge corkboard and a bunch of notecards and do it the analog way.

I’m curious to know if anyone is using Scrivener for scientific papers and what other software you use. If you could share your process I’d be grateful!

I’m not writing much academic stuff at the moment but if I do my combo of choice is
Scrivener + Bookends -> Mellel + Bookends.

As long as you don’t need more than one note stream this works very well.

But keep in mind that Scrivener is not meant to be an outliner, it’s a full writing app – and the most comfortable one for many of us – and because of that on one hand has many more features than an outliner but others you might miss.

I’m not quite sure if Scrivener is the software you’re looking for but maybe you’ll find something beyond what you were looking for. The ‘Wow! This can also be done with Scrivener?!’ effect is very common in these circles, even if you have been using it for a while.

Scrivener is very flexible in adjusting to individual workflows. But of course there is not one software for everyone. Just test it and make sure to include how to pass citations from Bookends to Scrivener to Mellel (great!) and footnotes from Scrivener to Mellel (not that great because Mellel uses for rtf text a rtf footnote format which is crap and has to be set to the normal footnotes format for every imported document).

Thanks for your response. Can you direct me to where I would learn how to pass citations from Bookends to Scrivener to Mellel? This is one of the main concerns I have about using Scrivener for organization and writing - I absolutely need to have a headache-free way of inserting and formatting citations.

I don’t use footnotes as often, so I’m not so worried there.

One other concern that was just posted by another member is how to use block formatting for long quotes (which is part of the APA style) in Scrivener>Mellel.

I can already see how Scrivener would improve my workflow and I’ve hardly used it at all, so I understand what you mean about the “wow” factor.

Scrivener Preferences/General: Set Bibliography/Citations Manager to Bookends.

The shortcut for switching from Scrivener to Bookends is, if I remember correctly, cmd+shift+y. I immediately set it to cmd+y in the OS shortcut settings because two different shortcuts when switching between both apps would confuse me.

In Bookends preferences set the word processor to Scrivener or to do this just on a temporary basis use File/Link to… (Scrivener must be running to be available.)

Check out in Bookends references under Scan&Bib/Temporary Citations what kind of citation delimiters are set. I think curly brackets are the default. If you don’t use them (too often) in you text I would leave this setting untouched because they are easily spottable.

And now – write! And when you want to insert a citation, hit the shortcut, choose the reference in the list and hit the shortcut again. Just like with Mellel! If you prefer drag & drop then drag & drop.

The difference is (beside a missing palette in Scrivener with the so far cited references) that you don’t get any highlighted special citation element but just the the reference in the temporary format and in curly brackets: {Pynchon, 2006}

Add a page number the same way you would do in Mellel: {Pynchon, 2006@625}

After you have compiled the draft and exported your text in rtf format to Mellel you have to expand the well known two-step method (light blue temporary citations at first, then hit “scan” and get the violet final citations) to a three-step one: At first you have to convert the temporary citations in curly brackets into Mellel’s special temporary citation elements.

Now it might become a little confusing due to the fact that I use the German version of Mellel and have to guess the original English menu names: Edit(? – fourth from the left)/Bibliography/Convert Text to Citations. Or something.

And from that point you know how to go on.

UPDATE: I figured it out.

If it is different from above can you share? It might be handy to others on the trip.

Sorry… what happened is that I posted a follow-up with a couple of questions, but then figured out I didn’t have the preferences in Bookends configured properly. Basically, in Bookends>Preferences>Scan & Bib I had “Content” selected in the “Cite By” drop down menu. It should actually be “author, date, unique ID”.

Hi there,

I’ve used Scrivener 2-3 times for certain parts of my scientific writing. Basically, I copy and pasted everything from a Word draft into Scrivener, including the formatting. Now I wonder how to bst start a paper from scratch. Does anyone of you guys have a APA Scrivener template readily available and wants to share? That would be awesome;)

Thanks in advance,

Writing APA style - one of the wondrous joys of academic life.

My advice (and I’m willing to hear alternatives from those more knowledgeable than myself) is to just write the thing, then export to Word and adjust the formatting there. You can get many APA style templates for Word online (see, for example, the EndNote website). If you really get stuck post here and I’ll send one of mine.

I’m still coming to terms with using Scrivener for academic work, especially references. I think (still experimenting and other things have priority at the moment) using curly brackets (i.e { and }) for your citations will enable EndNote and Bookends to recognise them and compile your reference list in Word.

Have fun! :slight_smile: