How are people handling sources

I have recently made a commitment to myself to get organized, and I have moved a lot of notes and data from other applications and locations into DTP (where I maintain just one large database for the time being). I’ve got everything working fine, from a “being organized” perspective except for one, niggling mental block. I can’t quite decide how to organize source material. I remember Steve Berlin Johnson’s blog post from a while ago, where he broke everything down into something like 500 word chunks. I don’t mind setting up separate entries/files for each quotation from a text, but then I have a file hierarchy that looks like this:

Benford 1995 <-- I’m a folklorist, we use the “author date” format.
…385 <-- Here’s a page number
…395 memory <-- Sometimes I’ll “tag” a citation’s title as a memory prompt.*

  • But otherwise I’m supposed to rely on DTP’s search, right?

Here’s where I run into a bit of a problem: one of the real great, and I do mean, great dimensions of DTP, and the reason why I really want to use it in this application, is the REPLICATION function. Here be the problem: if I replicate an entry and then drag it into the project where I want to have a copy of that entry, all I have is the page number. If I append the “author date” information as a prefix, that also gets appended in the original, which is clumsy.

I don’t suppose I would mind:

Benford 1995
…Benford 1995:385
…Benford 1995:395

I would especially not mind, I think, if there was a kind of function that would allow me to prefix or suffix the parent folder’s name to all its entries, rather like the AppleScript that allows you to do this in the finder.

(And am I going to lose the ability to use colons in my entry titles once DTP 2 goes to a different database format?)

I’m not sure if I haven’t made this question a thorough jumble. My apologies. It’s late enough on a Saturday night and this was just bugging me enough to want to hop into the forums to see what kind of answer I might get.

There are days, Bill deV, when I feel like asking about driving across the basin just to see how you have your database set up.

EDIT: Please excuse the periods that I had to use to create my pseudo-file hierarchy. This particular BB software doesn’t like periods used as spacing.

If you check the Scripts menu of the application there is an “Rename -> Add Prefix…” script. You would select the records underneath your Author group and then run this script. Would that help you?

Doh! Thanks, Annard, that helps a little, but it still strikes me as a little redundant. But I can handle redundancy. I was just plain curious, too, how people were working. I know there are quite a few researchers using DT that populate this forum, and I’m hoping they write in with just a thumbnail of their practice. This is the one place where I fell like I’m just not getting it.

No, v2 will convert internal database names to valid file names on its own. Therefore you will be still able to use any character in names or use items with the same name in the same group.

Personally, I am using the “Name” column to give a brief description of the note’s contents, and using the “Comments” column to put in the bibliographic info: “Author, Title, page” in my case. That’s for my reading notes.

As far as filing articles and pdf’s, i have two folders (er, groups): one organized by author, and one by subject. The author one I use when it’s a formal paper or pdf; the subject group for clippings off the internet or when the author is not important (i.e., practically speaking, the former is used for formal academic writing, the latter for webarchives from the net and clippings from online newspapers, websites, and the like). When filing in the “author” group, i don’t use subgroups (for now, see next paragraph for qualms and request): I simply name the file bibliographically with as much info as I have: “Author, Title (Publisher Info)”.

However, before seeing this thread, I had been thinking about posting a request to a more flexible column system, especially for those of us who are using DT for academic article filing and note-taking. For now, my academic pdf’s are in the hundreds range (though the “subject” category is in the thousands); it is still feasible to search manually assisted with a bit of “find” and “see also”. However, with an eye to the future and the growth of the number of articles, I would think that more columns for metadata – and not just the “comments” column – is absolutely necessary. To use a common example for everyone with a Mac, iTunes has columns for “genre”, “artists”, etc.; file organization can be reviewed on the fly by simply clicking that column. I know that one can do this using “comments”, but having only one column for article-filing metadata is not sufficient; depending on one’s needs, one might find themselves putting more than one type of metadata in there, and as such one can no longer effectively use a click on the column-head to re-organize according to the meta-data required.

I know not everyone uses DT for such purposes, but since one of its declared main purposes is to be a filing database for articles, PDF’s, webarcihves, and the like, then a more flexible method of entering and organizing according to metadata is absolutely necessary.


Yes, some general bibliographic metadata would be nice for PDFs and such – they could even be auto-filled with the PDF description information [which can include keywords]. In fact context-sensitive metainformation could add a lot: for example, web archives could store the original URL in metadata. Of course this starts to encroach on the Spotlight ‘More Info’ territory.

V2 should support meta data in one way or the other.

I’m also using DTP for academic work. I save journal articles (PDFs usually) and have folders, sorry, groups set up by topic and sub-topics (and, occasionally, sub-sub-topics). Where topics overlap, I replicate a sub-topic and add to both. To add articles to topics, I just click on “Classify” and DTP does an excellent job of picking the appropriate group. Not always first preference, but always there. And, I have found, that if the group is well-named, then you don’t even need to have other articles in it. The last few sub-topics I set-up were correctly classified by DTP, even when empty. 8)

Note that in using groups like this, I don’t need additional meta-data.

Regarding meta-data: I enter the article title in “Name” and bibliographic data in Comments (correctly formatted for later reference). The URL contains the link to the source of the article (usually an online journal database).

When researching, “Find” and “See also” are both really helpful, and very fast.

For adding new articles, “Classify” is superb. And it takes a lot of the work off me. I don’t need to type extra info, remember “tags”, or anything like that. I just double click on the most appropriate of the groups that DTP recommends. And if there are multiple relevant topics, I replicate. Simple & fast and let’s me get on with the stuff I need to actually do (like actually read the articles and write the papers I’m downloading them for).

All the above applies to notes and other files as well.