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workflow and Citavi

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workflow and Citavi

Postby Dav-o » 2017-01-25 02:23

Hi all

I am a big fan of Citavi, but increasingly am wondering about the best + most effective workflow. I do NOT want to duplicate or repeat the manual here. By workflow i mean things that are different from what is in the Citavi manual (good though it is) but instead the real-world use-cases involving things that overlap with, but are a little outside Citavi issues.

As we all know with any software there are always many ways to do one thing. (such as 4 or 5? ways to add a new reference to your Citavi project etc) however in the context of workflow we work with 1. other documents (both with or without .pdf) 2. Citavi 3. word add-in 4. word (or other w.processor)

So the aim of this post is to find effective workflows for things that we do every say such as:
  • adding a new chapter
  • moving a chapter
  • renaming a section within a chapter
  • populating a section
  • adding a direct ref.
  • adding an indirect ref

by way of example,

A. taking the simplest of these renaming a section within a chapter i can do this in the Citavi, the word add-in or in word.doc itself. Are these all equivalent?? It turns out they are not - they all look the same at first but the last of these (i think) breaks the 'link' between Citavi and the .doc and will cause you problems later on. So how do YOU do this? do you: .close it in word .change it in Citavi .then open word . then scroll to the same insertion point .then delete the previous 'linked' section/category text .then go to the Citavi add-in .then double click the word-add in section/categogy text to capture this change? That CAN'T be right, is it?

B. a second example Moving a chapter. OK... a chapter is a 'category' and you can go to Category column, and drag-and-drop or use the arrows in Citavi to move it to its new home. Looks OK in Citavi, but what about the word component (the text you wrote in this category)? I just tried it with word open and even with a refresh of the Citavi 'refresh' button the change does NOT ripple across to word! So i close word. and reopen then the change appears in the citavi pane, but NOT in the word doc itself. so what do you all do then- Move it in word AS WELL? or am i doing something wrong? Obviously closing and reopening a file isnt the right way to do things.

QUESTION: how do others approach these daily workflow issues?

thanks!
Dav-o
 

Re: workflow and Citavi

Postby Jennifer Schultz » 2017-01-25 16:22

Hi Dav-o,

Thanks for your questions! Although you asked for other users to share their workflows, I did want to just quickly point out that categories and knowledge items are inserted as text, so any changes you make to category names or knowledge items will not be automatically updated in your Citavi project. So, any changes you want to make to categories in your Word document after inserting your category system need to be done by hand, unfortunately. For this reason, we recommend waiting to begin writing until your outline is fairly well established.

Best regards,
Jennifer
Jennifer Schultz
Citavi Customer Service
 

Re: workflow and Citavi

Postby Dav-o » 2017-01-25 22:52

g'day Jennifer,

thanks for your input.

Yes i understand that
For this reason, we recommend waiting to begin writing until your outline is fairly well established
But i'm sure you'd agree.... and as David Bowie says, there are ALWAYS "ch..ch..ch..ch..changes" and we Citavi users need to turn and face the strain + deal with them... quickly and simply!

Question for you: in the example you give, would you say it is smarter this
be done by hand, unfortunately
or to delete and re-insert in exactly the same place?

Any other thoughts on this are warmly invited too :)

thx
Dav-o
 

Re: workflow and Citavi

Postby mnaah » 2017-01-25 23:27

g'day dav-o!

Nice to see another aussie around these parts, especially considering Citavi's not very well known down under. I'm currently using citavi for my doctoral dissertation. I'll run through my general workflow, and then address your specific questions.

I keep all my research in Citavi, categorized by chapter. That is, I will never assign a reference to anything below a chapter level. As soon I come across a new resource I want to track down at some stage, I put it in to citavi, with the relevant chapter (if possible) and flag it with the red flag that I haven't read it. I don't use citavi's task manager, as I use Toodledo for all my other tasks, and I don't want a second place for tasks. Something will fall through the cracks that way. (I also find that with the red flags, I know what I have or haven't read. Any further tasks, like 'take notes' or 'scan article' are fairly obvious within a few seconds of looking at a reference.)

As early as possible, I make a detailed chapter outline in citavi, down to the 1-4 paragraph level. These may or may not have any direct connection to the headings in my document. I also make 2 other dummy categories just below the chapter level, labelled "NOT SURE YET" and "PROBABLY NOT USEFUL." I then go through all of the knowledge items I have for the chapter and place them in the outline. Then, each day when I'm reading, I will filter for the red flagged items in my current chapter, and rank them in terms of what I want to read next. Then I start reading.

From previous experience, I found that I was making too many knowledge items while reading, which made it hard to identify the really important ones. So now, I read through the entire document (article PDF or chapter of a monograph) and mark down possible knowledge items (yellow highlight in citavi PDFs, pencil or 3M flags in printed materials). Then when I've finished, I write a summary knowledge item in 2 paragraphs—the first outlines the argument, the second (in italics) gives my evaluation and thoughts about possible uses. (I don't use the evaluation field in the contents tab as I want to be able to see this quickly in the knowledge view.) Now I'll go back through the marks I've made and work out which ones I want to input as knowledge items. As part of the input, I will assign to as specific category as possible. Every few days, I will have a look through my outline to see where the holes are (not a lot of knowledge items), and to see if anything in the NOT SURE YET category sparks any new thoughts on organization.

When it comes to writing the dissertation, I'm using Word. I keep each chapter in a separate .docx file. My last 70 page chapter (with 200 footnotes of citations) was already starting to make my laptop feel a little less fluid than normal. I control all of the headings myself—I don't autopopulate from citavi, I just type them in. So then, they're easily changeable, without needing to touch citavi unless I'm looking at a drastic reorganization of the structure of the work. I try and avoid such drastic things if at all possible. (Google "designing a one-draft dissertation" for more on this.)

I draft one paragraph at a time, looking at the relevant citavi category on a second monitor (broken down with subheadings if necessary), but not inserting any references until I'm happy with the shape of the whole paragraph. Partly, this is because I *very* rarely use quotes in my writing. Once I'm happy, I will insert knowledge items with the advanced option of 'citation only' (right click on the knowledge item in the add-in).

This kinda answers your questions already I think. Because I don't create any relationship between citavi and headings, so that I just change them in word. Because I don't use a lot of quotes, I don't need to go back to citavi to change knowledge items. About the only place I find myself changing things in citavi for displaying in word is in references—when I need to tweak the style, or change quotation marks in fields to smart quote marks.

hope that helps :)
mnaah
 

Re: workflow and Citavi

Postby Jennifer Schultz » 2017-01-26 17:32

Hi dav-o and mnaah,

It's nice to hear some Australian accents here in the forum! :-)

@dav-o: It's true that your outline will change a lot after you start writing. I guess the best way to ensure that your knowledge items or references stay linked to a particular category is to change the category in Citavi (making sure that the knowledge items and references you want in that category are assigned to it) and then insert just the new category in your document.

If you simply want to rename a category, you can rename the heading in your document without deleting it first. This will ensure that Citavi recognizes the knowledge items and references as still being part of the category even if it displays the old name in the Word Add-In. If you delete the inserted category entirely, the bookmark Citavi inserts for the section is deleted as well and you wouldn't be able to view your knowledge items and references as being in that category in the Word Add-In.

@mnaah: Wow, thank you for the thorough description of your workflow! This seems like a very systematic and efficient way to work with Citavi. I especially like your description of how you handle your reading. I think that's a great method to ensure that you only use the best information from an article rather than getting slowed down by saving everything that initially seems interesting as a knowledge item as you read.

One quick tip: if you're working with footnotes and notice that Word gets a bit slower with a larger number of footnotes, you can clear the Apply citation formatting automatically checkbox in the Word Add-In to speed things up. Citation styles that use cross-references run a comparison of all the footnotes whenever you insert a new footnote, which can really slow Word's performance down. If you do turn off the automatic formatting you can apply formatting manually by periodically clicking Refresh on the Citavi ribbon.

Best regards,
Jennifer
Jennifer Schultz
Citavi Customer Service
 

Re: workflow and Citavi

Postby Dav-o » 2017-01-27 01:04

Hi all

yes WOW @mnaah! THANK YOU for sharing your workflow - you certainly have applied a thoughtful and disciplined approach to your work. i'dd add that between the lines it sounds like its based on some hard-won lessons. Go the Aussies!

and thanks @Jennifer for you additions too. Its all VERY useful. combined this is absolute gold for me. I have categorised to make it simple for future/other forum users and ALSO so that further input can be added using the numbered list. (For me the real "aha!" moments are the ones in gold:) Here we go:


  1. stay with your thinking in Citavi as long as possible before inserting into word. In an ideal situation of course, and yes, we all have a plan but this is counter to how may tech-age people work. I know many people (including me!) who tend to just start writing knowing that it is simple to move around later - that is one of the points of word processing. The structure / writing evolve together and one feeds off the other to a degree.

  2. make a detailed chapter outline in Citavi, down to the 1-4 paragraph level. These may or may not have any direct connection to the headings in [the finished] document. I understand that these are categories / thoughts that may or may not become document headings (at whatever level) but i don't quite understand - why do that if - and what is really amazing for me is....

  3. never assign a reference to anything below a chapter level This blew my mind. I have been allocating at fine level each knowledge item to each sub-sub-sub category, thinking this would be super-efficient later. I'm still weighing-up this one! and it relates to ...

  4. set up two dummy categorieswithin each chapter . This is an absolutely brilliant idea! This is liberating because it allows ideas to flow rather needing to have rigid categorization before you are ready for it. most excellent.

  5. when changing a heading: rename the heading in your document without deleting it first. This will ensure that Citavi recognizes the knowledge items and references as still being part of the category. Nice!

  6. From experience, [don't make] too many knowledge items while reading, [or it will] become too hard to identify the really important ones What? Really? pass by all those juicy quotes? This challenges my idea of why Citavi is so good. That i use it to manage my reflections and thoughts as i go. To be 'with' each idea and to have insights about it's connections to other authour's ideas. Question: Doesn't that mean you have to read and then re-read everything again and again as you write each chapter? I am trying to prevent that 'oh i KNOW i read about that somewhere.. but WHERE?!?!? ' feeling.

  7. use redflags for read/unread. Simple, fast, elegant, useful :)

  8. keep each chapter in a separate .docx file Wha? i have my whole document in one and performance no issue (yet;) I'm wondering if i should do this now rather than save-as and move / re-link :( all knowledge items and headings at some point down-the-track. i am REALLY not looking forward to having to relink EVERYTHING. Argggg!

  9. write one para at at a time [but] do not insert any references until I'm happy with the shape of the whole paragraph Sheesh! This is different for me - i have been letting the ref.s inform the writing and the writing drive the seeking of knowledge in parallel. Hmmmmm.....

  10. control all of the headings [your]self— DON'T autopopulate from citavi, just type them in. I had thought that linking with Citavi as closely as possible was the goal, so you have again rocked my world with this one.

  11. look at the relevant citavi category on a second monitor. Totally agree. a second monitor is a huge productivity multiplier with Citavi. i have my second monitor in portrait mode, which suits A4 written documents, one glorious page at a time.

  12. don't use a lot of quotes, [so then you] don't need to go back to citavi to change knowledge items.. i guess this is more about your writing style. I tend to quote more, so unfortunately that is not so much an option for me.


Phew! I think that 12 is enough for now. This is tremendously useful for me so hopefully others get something out of it too. Maybe we should divide this workflow topic into either 1.setup 2.collecting, and 3.managing. 4. writing and ref.ing. Dunno. These phases are not distinct, they overlap. Anyway, i'll leave that up to the forum moderators. It seems a part of this is personal for sure, but a "suggested workflow" as a flowchart/ diagram (not replacing but supporting the manual) might help other users with the using of Citavi to it's best?

Let's keep this discussion going.....Further thoughts? and/or anyone else?
Dav-o
 

Re: workflow and Citavi

Postby Jennifer Schultz » 2017-01-27 14:43

Hi Dav-o,

Thanks so much for summarizing your "takeaways" in a numbered list! I'll point other users this way when we receive questions about workflow in the future.

A couple of additional thoughts on some of the points:

6. I think this one really depends on the type of paper you're reading, the type of paper you're writing, and the academic discipline you're in. For example, if you're reading a medical study, you probably just want the main findings and some details about study design. If you're reading a paper that is more concerned with ideas or text analysis, and if you will discuss it at length in a chapter of your dissertation, you probably will want to go through it in a more thorough way and keep track of your reactions and ideas as you read.

Even if you are writing a dissertation in a Humanities or Social Science discipline, it's likely that not all of the texts you are working with will need to be examined this minutely. There may be seminal texts you need to know the basic ideas of or related but more tangential texts that are less central to the main points you want to make in your publication. This is where mnaah's suggestion can be very helpful. You are right that it means you're re-reading the text, but I would guess you still save time because the initial quick read-through with the highlighting tool lets you get an overview of the work. You can then create a summary to see what you've retained, write down your own appraisal, and identify what might be useful for your own writing. If you can't remember something while creating the summary, you can re-read only that section of the paper again. I think this is a genius way to efficiently identify and save the most important ideas from a particular paper. Again, there's a time and place for efficiency, and this strategy might not be as well suited to the sources you've identified as being of key importance to your paper. Also, at the beginning of a project, you might not know which sources will be important later on and might want to err on the side of caution by saving more quotations and comments while you're reading.

7. You could also use groups to mark references as read or unread.

8. Are you using a footnote citation style that uses cross-references like "see footnote n" or "ibid."? If not and if you're not experiencing any performance issues yet, it might not be necessary to move each chapter into its own document. Approximately how many pages do you anticipate your document having when you are finished? Also, are you using a lot of images in your document? That can also Word down, too.

Another option you could consider is working with master and sub-documents in Word.

As far as this post is concerned, I think it's great as it is in this list form! I agree that it might be tricky to separate out the different points into categories, since they do overlap.

You're absolutely right that a suggested workflow would be beneficial for other Citavi users as well. We are hoping to offer a little more guidance this year for workflows for different types of projects - perhaps in video format, as a graphic, or in our upcoming blog. Of course, users will also always have ways of working that fit their learning and writing styles better, and that's how it should be.

Thanks again for starting this very interesting and relevant discussion, Dav-o!

Best regards,
Jennifer
Jennifer Schultz
Citavi Customer Service
 

Re: workflow and Citavi

Postby mnaah » 2017-01-27 18:49

This is very useful conversation indeed! Nice one dav-o

I just wanted to clarify a couple of points from your numbered list:

make a detailed chapter outline in Citavi, down to the 1-4 paragraph level. These may or may not have any direct connection to the headings in [the finished] document. I understand that these are categories / thoughts that may or may not become document headings (at whatever level) but i don't quite understand - why do that if - and what is really amazing for me is....

never assign a reference to anything below a chapter level This blew my mind. I have been allocating at fine level each knowledge item to each sub-sub-sub category, thinking this would be super-efficient later. I'm still weighing-up this one! and it relates to ...


Just to clarify a couple of things here. I have been writing essays using detailed outlines for a very long time now, so this is just my citavi implementation of my practice. Honestly, very few of my doctoral cohort where I am make such detailed outlines. But the bigger thing is that citavi categories interact with references and knowledge items independently. That is, I will never assign a reference (book, chapter, article, whatever) to anything below chapter level, but I assign knowledge items (quotes, etc) to these detailed categories. I will put them anywhere I think they might be relevant (ie often in multiple categories), and move them around even while writing as the argument for the chapter becomes clearer in my head.

From experience, [don't make] too many knowledge items while reading, [or it will] become too hard to identify the really important ones What? Really? pass by all those juicy quotes? This challenges my idea of why Citavi is so good. That i use it to manage my reflections and thoughts as i go. To be 'with' each idea and to have insights about it's connections to other authour's ideas. Question: Doesn't that mean you have to read and then re-read everything again and again as you write each chapter? I am trying to prevent that 'oh i KNOW i read about that somewhere.. but WHERE?!?!? ' feeling.


I'm resigned to the fact that this is going to happen to some extent, no matter what I do! With my actual practice, I must admit I still find I have too many knowledge items, but it's much easier to work through 15 knowledge items for a section than 75! And I have lots of possible highlights. What reading through first does, however, is help me assess how useful the whole resource is going to be to my dissertation. In reality, most dissertations (or any argument really) need to pick a limited range of scholars to interact with in detail. These sources for me will have the most knowledge items. Most other works I will choose only the absolute most salient points. As I said, I always write a summary knowledge item, so I can quickly revise what the article is about—this at least would make it easier to narrow down possibilities if I need to redig for something.

write one para at at a time [but] do not insert any references until I'm happy with the shape of the whole paragraph Sheesh! This is different for me - i have been letting the ref.s inform the writing and the writing drive the seeking of knowledge in parallel. Hmmmmm.....


I think I haven't quite explained myself clearly here and this relates to the multi-monitor comment in the next of your points. I do you citavi in multi-monitor mode, which is great. What I meant by writing with multi-monitor though is this: I draft one paragraph at a time using writemonkey on a portrait screen. On the landscape screen, I have the knowledge tab open in citavi with the relevant category selected. Therefore, I've got all the possible knowledge items that could be relevant to this paragraph, and I can quickly jump between them if I need more detail than the overview statement. Thus I wouldn't say that I'm writing without letting my work in citavi inform the argument. After I've drafted the paragraph, I copy it to my word doc, clean it up, and add the referencing using citavi. It is a little laborious, but I like this method for several reasons: it makes sure that the argument is mine rather than just rearranging the thoughts of others; I find that drafting outside of the word doc gets around the psychological barrier of writing it perfectly the first time...I know that not everyone is afflicted with this, but in previous degrees, I would spend whole days sometimes looking at the screen and only come out with 100 words because of this; it gives me a chance to do early editing in the move to Word.

———————————

Thanks again for starting this thread. It's been enormously helpful. Also, I don't visit the forums very often, but the facebook post about a forum thread about workflow got me interested and I came and had a look. I think it is worth thinking through how best to materialize this discussion (when finished) into a resource for other citavi users.

cheers
mnaah
 

Re: workflow and Citavi

Postby piotrsmolnicki » 2017-01-29 11:19

Dear Colleagues,

I have read your conversation and would like to add my (controversial?) workflow:
At the beginning of using Citavi I created multiple sub-categories only thematically, rather according to any *paper* layout. I still do not use the layout. The reason is to collect the knowledge and to categorise it the best way possible in general. After reaching more than thousand of items I realised that too much detailed categories separate similar items instead of grouping them. It is because Citavi categories does not include items categorised by their own sub-categories. Thus, I created my own workflow * to Citavi as it is. I decided to:
  1. merge a lot of sub-categories with their general categories;
  2. rename new merged categories into long name that includes missing words ("tags") from previous sub-categories; it is due to the Citavi's ability to search any word of the category name (it is not possible with tags, what I mentioned in many posts in the Citavi Forum); the new category names include "tags" which always appear in the similar topics - I have had to read a lot to find out some connections, therefore one category "groups" a system of the very similar items;
  3. create MAIN CATEGORIES as groups of categories; I name them short using capitals, thus I avoid categorising items with these grouping MAIN CATEGORIES;
  4. create the subheadings and move the subheading named same as the category to the end - this is due to collect each new categorised item under this general subheading instead of incidentally putting it under another specified subheading - Citavi adds each new item to the end of the list inside a category.
When I write I can search for any word I am thinking about to write and perhaps the search engine will find me correct category I should look for the knowledge item. If not I can find manually this category and add the word I was thinking about to its name. Believe me or not, but this (controversial?) workflow is very efficient after some time of giving long names to categories.
I prefer visual interface to ease some binary choices: un-/read, not-/important etc. instead of using groups. I do not find them intuitive. The same with tasks. It would be great to have more "flags" and possibility of colouring items. Stars are visible only when you enter the reference in Citavi - they should be visible on the list to preview the importance of the reference (I prefer the color intensity). Color+intensity is a huge opportunity for visual information.
I also miss the possibility to put an item under subheading immediately after categorising it.

Sincerely,
Piotr M. Smolnicki
piotrsmolnicki
 

Re: workflow and Citavi

Postby mnaah » 2017-02-01 00:20

Hi Piotr,

Thanks for contributing. It's very clear that there are lots of good ways to use Citavi, and a lot of it depends on the personality of the person.

Just one question with your workflow - why would you not use keywords for what you describe? I am a little confused by what you mean by 'tags.' But I think a keyword would allow you to do what you want without having to hijack the categories function which is more for outlining arguments. Keywords would allow you to sort items thematically, and in more than one place. You don't even have to give up hierarchy as a keyword search will return a hit if it finds it anywhere in the field. The only downside is that it might be a bit more of a hassle to reassign keywords than it would categories.

For example, if you had keywords "Science. Physics" and "Science. Chemistry" and you searched for "Science" in an advanced search, it would return any entry with either keyword.

Does that make sense? Or have I misunderstood you?
mnaah
 

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