An idea for a feature, perhaps too far fetched.

edited January 9, 2021
Research and various projects require different workflows. Also, people have different approaches to organising research. Zotero is a versatile tool and it is difficult to accommodate everything.

For a PhD research, I would imagine that the needs might slightly differ to the needs for a lit review which is generally more narrow in terms of research areas. But many people recommend making a catalogue for PhD research, generally in spreadsheet; containing quotes, sources, notes on the quote, and categorical tags like qualitative, quantitative, critique, support, etc.

I mostly write lit reviews at the moment, which is much more narrow in spectrum and volume. But I adopted this approach and I really like it, it really makes it more organised, and I found I started writing much better content, analysing the information more efficiently. But copying and pasting into spreadsheet is quite time consuming. What if we could achieve this in Zotero?

Zotero already has excellent tagging. However, when you use those tags to search, the work/title with the tag shows up. To drill down further and taking advantage of tagging could eliminate the need to make catalogues, which are then filtered/sorted in Excel.

For example, a project like lit review would be a collection. We know that Zotero with plugins can extract PDF highlights and notes right below the highlight. It also distinguishes colours. If it was possible to extract different colours (and their subsequent notes) into separate note items in the parent. I would be able to tag the highlights individually. At the end of my research, I could search by filters and decide what to use or not. Having a catalogue in the collection, displaying all available tags for the collection.

Just an idea. May be it's a stupid one, an overkill, or clunky workflow. I'd be interested what you think?
  • Zotfile can extract different color highlights and label them within the note. An automatic workflow that creates many notes isn’t likely because very large amounts of notes can cause performance issues. But you could manually cut and paste the different colored highlights into separate notes.
  • That could work indeed.
  • You can get separate notes per annotation color with the 'pdfExtraction.colorNotes' preference, see here. This creates multiple Zotero notes with titles such as "Red Annotations". (It won't create separate notes for each annotation, which can cause performance issues, as pointed out by bwiernik.) You can add color to these notes as explained here.

    If you are ok with one Zotero note, you could use the 'pdfExtraction.colorAnnotations' preference. The extracted annotations include color labels such as "(Red)" in the text, which you could search for. Here's a screenshot:

    (You started some of the linked discussions, so maybe you already know this.)
  • Thank you very much, sounds interesting. I remember that thread, it helped me a lot to tweak how the notes were extracted.
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