Collection complexity, duplication and confusion in large collections.

I've been using Zotero intensively for over a decade. My library has about 25k items. I use tags and collections to structure my research, but both have become bewilderingly complex and full of duplication and error. On any specific project my collection tree is complex and deep, and it is not possible to use collection search to keep it in order. I routinely lose and duplicate sub-collections. With others, I have asked many times over many years for the developers to work on symbolic linkages between sub-collections (which would be both analytically powerful and a marvellous teaching tool). An issue has been alive for this since 2019 (but the discussion is much older) : But this seems not to be priority.

Given all the other (great!) development work, I am curious to understand how other Zotero users work with these problems of complexity over time. Do people start projects from scratch? Do they shuffle all the older items into a collection? Or do they resist collection / tag proliferation with iron discipline?

  • An issue has been alive for this since 2019 (but the discussion is much older) :
    (Just to clarify, that ticket is simply for duplicating a collection. We've never committed to anything else in terms of links between collections.)
  • Static duplication will only add to the problem, sadly.
  • It has nothing to do with your request. It’s a totally unrelated feature request.
  • This may not help you much, but one of the things I do is to attach links to zotero items. For example, some of our items have got specific collections attached to them (such as a collection of citing items and a collection of cited items). To not lose track of these, we attach links of the form zotero://select/groups/2405685/collections/E7ABHHC2 to the item to which this collection belongs. This approach is of course fragile, in the sense that if the collection was accidentally deleted/recreated, the link changes and breaks.

    More generally, I also use our tool to maintain libraries, generate indices, etc.
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