tracking individual participants with tagging, keywords, or meta data?

Hi all,
I am relatively new Scrivener (Windows) user and have what is probably a newbie question. I’m in the social sciences and using Scrivener to write my dissertation. I am trying to come up with a better way to track research participants (140+) as they show up in my manuscript. I think I want Scrivener to do something that it can’t. I want to be able to tag a participant’s name as a keyword or meta data so that I can easily find all the places that individual appears in the manuscript. So far, it seems that Scrivener lets me tag whole documents (or segments of text), not a specific word or words within the text. Do you know a way around this? Or some other method I’m not thinking of?


Seems like a simple word searchfrom the top of the binder will do the trick.

First of all, the way Scrivener works, it is more efficient and your text is less likely to be at risk of corruption or loss if you split it up into small documents. Much of my stuff is split up where each paragraph is a separate document; few documents across all my projects run to more than one screen; I use Scrivenings view to see it all together, and of course Compile is all about creating a continuous text out of a multiplicity of parts. So by splitting it up into small chunks, keywords might take you close enough to what you need.

Otherwise, how about using inline annotations as markers? Give them a glyph you won’t be using otherwise, for instance “§Peter”, “§James” for characters (That ‘§’ glyph is the key next to “1”, or Opt-6, just looking unusual in this forum font!), or whatever is meaningful, so you can search for them without picking up words in the main text. You can exclude inline annotations at compile time, so you don’t have to worry about finally having to go through the whole text deleting them.


I’d take a look at this recent discussion - - and search the forums for QDA. In a nutshell, Scrivener is not built to be a QDA program, and you’d probably be better off with one, especially if you can get it at student pricing.

Thanks! I’ve already analyzed all of my data in MaxQDA, so I’m not trying to use Scrivener for analysis. My desire to track participants is more about logistics and clean up. Have I used introduced this person before? Am I using the correct pseudonym? (Early on in writing I pasted directly from field notes and cleaning this up is proving a little challenging.) Which participants do I write most about? Am I describing them consistently across chapters?

I think using something like colored text or inline annotations to mark participants may meet my needs. I am loving Scrivener and feel that it’s really helping me see the big picture of my dissertation.

Thanks! My chunks aren’t quite that small, as I’ve conceptualized each chunk as a section or subsection. I may try to go smaller, but I feel like my thoughts would be too fragmented if I went smaller. If I rethink how I use keywords, they may be more useful. I could probably tag type of participant (Group A interviewee, Group B interviewee, Group A observation, etc.) If I used these types of keywords and then highlighted the name of the participant, I think I’d be able to see types of participants in Keywords and find within that text segment using color.

I’m not too familiar with inline annotations, but it sounds promising. I’ll do some more looking into that option.

Have you gone through the Tutorial that you will find under the Help menu? If you haven’t, do do so; it won’t take long and will familiarise you with the way that Scrivener works.

But in the context of small chunks is better, by using a Scrivenings session, you can see all of what you have in your current chunks as a virtually continuous text—when version 3 is out you will be able to edit them as if they were more or less a continuous text as has long been possible on the Mac version—so conceptually you should find little interruption, and it would allow you to use keywords more effectively.

It might be worth your while to spend a little time now, saving your project under a different name so you have one to experiment with, then splitting that up as I suggested so you can try using Scrivenings mode and keywords to see how you get on. Giving yourself an hour or two to experiment like that, as well as with inline annotations, might save you a mort of time and effort further on down the line. Also remember, if you do split things, you can always merge them again if you so need.

And finally, compiling will stitch together everything as a continuous text.

HTH :slight_smile:


Awesome that you’ve been using MaxQDA. I’d suggest as much as possible that you use the same coding/keyword system that you used there. For what you describe it may actually be easier to compile from Scrivener and bring the compiled text back in to Max to run a lexical search and/or auto code.