Collecting, filtering and organizing lots of knowledge bottom up - Citavi Style

Hi everybody, this is my first post. The past days I’ve been to working on a workflow for academic purposes that I want to share with you to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Main Idea
The workflow revolves around the idea of quickly processing lots of information, filtering out the relevant bits and gathering them in a central place - essentially creating a top down hierarchy of knowledge, but from the bottom up. In that way it has been inspired by Citavi, a powerful reference manager and PKM app I get for free from my university. Sadly, I’d have to pay an expensive subscription once I leave uni, so I got this idea in my head of mimicking some of whta’ts possible in Citavi, but using obsidian - and of course because we like to play, don’t we.

How it works (so far)

  1. You skim a couple dozen papers, articles and books on a topic, making annotations and taking fleeting notes.
  2. Going back to your notes, you filter out what really seems important to you: A summary here, a quote there, some personal comments on a third paper, and so on.
  3. You collect all the important stuff on a central note and write a short abstract, drawing on the collected material

How it looks

The Homepage:

A "Literature note:

A “Topics” note tidied up:

…with open admonition blocks:

… and in editor mode to see what’s going on under the hood:

So basically, I’m collecting a body of relevant summaries, quotes, comments etc. specific to a topic on one single note. I can then draw on this body to write a short summary on it.

Plugins used
Admonitions, outliner, dataview, citations, templates (or templates), workspaces, homepage doing the main work. Minimal theme for aesthetic purposes (ooh so soothing), could also use hider etc. Collapse all and cycle through panes for extra navigation. Copy and embed blocks for easy referencing later on.

Some details and issues
Props to mnvwvnm for the idea of using dataview key:: value pairs for reverse block referencing as mentioned here. This is a nice workaround to collect blocks of knowledge in spite of obsidians note-centric structure.

This remains a work in progress so far. Some functionality I’m missing:

  • Dragging and dropping my queried quotes, comments etc. to arrange them within my main summary. Probably will remain a dream. Would love to see the drag and drop plugin alive and breathing again, though.
  • Citations currently needs me to export items from Zotero and to specify this exported file. Not good if I keep on reading as i will need to export and import again. Would be nice if it made use of the API the way logseq currently does.

So what do you think? Curious to hear some suggestions!


Thank you so much for this! I’ve been trying to determine how to do something like this.

Hi! Just testing this out, and realized that you can transclude any details for this as you want to use this into a kanban board (Admonition can also be transcluded in kanban (but it appears it will do the entire admonition block - so if you have comments or quotes in the same block and want to use separately it may prove to be a problem). The kanban plugin is in the community plug-ins.