Zotero vs. DT vs. Bookends for Research Database?


Does anyone have any experience/thoughts on using Zotero rather than DevonThink or Bookends as a long-term research database that could work with Scrivener? I realize Zotero and Bookends are also citation-managers, which is their key advantage, and DT has its AI search functionality and scalability.

Does anyone have any opinions on which works out best overall – which has the best workflow, usability, and staying power?

I’m concerned particularly with academic writing…

DevonThink is, as far as I know, the only one that has demonstrated it can handle the volume of data that a serious research database requires.


I think Zotero is by far the most interesting project (in fact, the fact that it is a project rather than a product is crucial for me). It now has a better (citation) interaction with Scrivener that it did previously via the RTF scan function.

You could probably use it with Devonthink, but after trying DT several times I’ve never been able get into it (perhaps because I work in literature and visual studies and I’m not a social scientist or historian, it might be slightly less useful). Zotero keeps things simple enough and has the functionality I need. Its interaction with project muse and the like is very helpful, and I use it keep notes on articles and books and other works. It has a fantastic sync capability for keeping things synced between your various computers. Plus it’s free.

I should mention, however, that I own (and like) Bookends to–but the real benefits of Bookends will not be clear unless you compose with Mellel.

En fin, I’ve found Zotero easier to use and it fits my needs better. But I recommend you try all the options at least for a little while.

I had to make a similar decision recently and decided on DTpro. As far as I know the current version is free. So why not give it a try? It is a complicated and rather cumbersome application but I found it to be worth its price (I paid for it because I thought that way I could get rid of those ugly yellow stripes DT has above the menu bar). And the AI is just phantastic. Has helped me a lot find stuff I didn’t even know I had…


Thanks. I actually think I’m going to be just using Zotero & Scrivener, and I think I will actually store all my notes in Scrivener, and all the PDFs & references in Zotero.

Despite the oft-voiced sentiment on this forum that something like DevonThink is a more heavy-duty manager of all research information, I think Scrivener has one gigantic advantage over DT – its ability to order the notes. And I like being able to take notes on my articles and books in order and keep them that way, and I love the fact that I can take my notes in outline format (and yet also put information in both the header and body of those notes, unlike, say, a dedicated outliner like OmniOutliner).

I think I’m willing to give up the AI capabilities of DT for the dual convenience of the note-ordering Scrivener has and the extremely easy flow from storing those notes to writing them if I use Scrivener as my general research manager…

That may work fine for the single project you’re running in Scrivener, say for articles or a book. But what if much of your research material will contribute to future writings? You’ll have to copy the Research folder again and again, and it will get more cumbersome as your career advances. Others are recommending DTP because it’s most useful in the long run. And KB has often said that writers should not think of Scrivener as having the capacity or tools of a research database.

Zotero itself also has good capabilities for organizing research notes and materials. And it’s a very secure way of assuring the future use of such materials in other contexts–including other machines and platforms via the sync function… (Much as I like OS X, it’s nice for me to know I can switch to Linux with relative ease in this respect).