Suggestion for managing small projects from larger collections?

Hi, looking for advice on managing my databases. I’m a historian & journalist. I’ve made a db for my sources at-large, which cover many subjects. If I were going to work on a new project using a select group of those sources (say, everything on Farmers’ Cooperatives), how do you suggest I organize it? Create a new db with replicates of the relevant documents? Use a Group/tag within the All-Sources db? Thank you!

I use tags
Each of my projects has a unique tag; Project-aaaaaaaaaa

You can’t replicate across databases

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If you meant replicants, in DT-speak a replicant only works within a database.
If you meant that you would make actual copies in to the new database, that could work although it means having two copies of everything that is in the new database.
I think tags like @DTLow suggests or a top level group of replicants for the new subject matter might be a better use of HD space.

There is no right or wrong answer here but the starting question I have is: What do you intend to do with the documents?

  • If you’re just gathering info in a location, you certainly could create a project-specific database and duplicate resources from the main database. There’s no harm (or shame :slight_smile: ) in duplicating data in this way, and it leaves your main repository intact and unchanged. This is the approach I would generally take.

  • If you want to make changes, edits to the documents, do you want those affecting your main repo? If not, duplicate; don’t replicate. And again, I would do this in another database to insulate my main repo but that’s not required.

  • If you want to make changes that are reflected in the actual documents, then replicate those documents into a project group in the same database.


Thanks everyone! Based on this, a group/tag with replicants makes the most sense. I want to work within that subset, but save any edits & annotations. Thank you!

It depends on your research scenarios.

I use tags quite a bit for projects. I also have a HUGE library group, separated between thousands of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ sources (each in their own group). When I start a new project, I tag the resources (almost all PDFs) in this Library group with the relevant tag (not all at once, but it’s an iterative process, since most projects, in my case academic outputs in the humanities, take months if not years to write). In another folder which holds all the project-specific data, I then create a smart group that filters only for items from the Library with that particular tag. That way, I get custom views of my resources on a per-project basis, using the single source of truth, if you like. Another great benefit is that these tags carry across to Devonthink To Go, so I can easily filter my thousands of files for reading and annotation when on the go.

I have recently also replicated a select set of resources from the Library group to a separate group. Here my use-case is a little different: I wanted to search across only this (arbitrary) selection of resources that couldn’t easily be separated by a search query. Creating a new group with these replicated PDFs means I can search across just these with great ease.

There’s nothing better for research than DT!

I keep a “working” database and an “archive” database. As the names suggest, the “working” database contains only materials relevant to the current project, making it a bit easier to transfer to my iPad for mobile work. The “archive” contains everything.

When I start a new project, I use the search function to find relevant resources in the archive, then drag and drop to the working database.

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