Does it matter where I create my notes?

I have imported a large amount of PDFs into Zotero. Retrieving the metadata creates a "parent" for each PDF. As I write notes about the article, I would like to make each note a separate entry, so I have been adding a note to the parent file (under the "notes" tab) rather than using the field that is visible when the PDF file itself is selected. I like being able to use the tag feature for each individual note so I can quickly get to the information from the article based on the tag.

My question is whether attaching the notes to the parent file rather than to the PDF file will create a problem with the citation feature in Scrivener since the citation information comes from the parent file and not the PDF?
  • What you are doing already is the recommended practice.

    You should generally always work with "Parent" items in Zotero, as these allow for full metadata, citing in word processors, formatting references, etc. It's usually best to use notes attached to the parent item to store notes about an item, rather than the note field that's part of the attachment item. I would recommend only using the tag and note fields that are part of the PDF attachment item to store comments specifically about the PDF file (e.g., I tag "online first" versions of a PDF as such so that I can go back and replace with the final version later; the Zotfile plugin stores extracted Tables of Contents in the PDF attachment item's note field).

    One thing that you should be aware of is that having a very large number of notes can eventually slow down your library. I would generally recommend storing most/all of your notes about an item in one note attached to the parent. You can still tag this note and use Cmd/Ctrl+F to find things within the note.

    Notes (either attached to the parent or to the attachment item) are not accessible to Scrivener or other citing methods. What exactly is your concern/use there?
  • Great! Thank you @bwiernik. I will use one note attached to the parent file and use the tags then.

    My question re: Scrivener was whether attaching notes to the parent file in Zotero (which is where Scrivener pulls the citation information from) would screw up the citation in Scrivener. But if the notes are not accessible, then I am not concerned.

    Thanks again!
  • Technically, the attachments and notes are distinct items are distinct items in the Zotero database, but with a special relationship as being children to the parent item.
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