How to organize academic work materials (students, mentoring etc.)?

Hello, I’ve been using for almost a year Obsidian mostly for research in the humanities to build my own zettelkasten and it’s fantastic! So fantastic that I realized I’m starting to use it also for other work-related stuff such as course management, thesis mentoring, to store procedures and so on. I previously used Devonthink but, while I consider it a very good piece of software I always find myself not actually using it. So I’m wondering if Obsidian could be the right app to also manage my teaching-related stuff and some bunch of documents (word files from students thesis etc.). I prefer to keep my zettelkasten alone so I created a new vault for “Teaching”. The thesis mentoring part would be something like:

    • dated notes for each meeting
    • FOLDER containing docx files or pdf from their work in progress
      So my questions are:
  1. Do you guys think it is safe to have this folder structure where in each folder there’s a mix of md notes and other files? Or would it be better to keep files in Devonthink and md notes in Obsidian? (I feel it’s not very practical but I’m curious to know what people think)
  2. If you manage these kind of stuff in your vault how do you organize it? Do you have specific templates for students card, course management and so on?

Thanks in advance

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Hello Nestor,

I also am in the Humanities, and have been using Obsidian constantly for my note taking and research. I have been using Obsidian on and off in the past year for thesis management. I have almost the same template you describe, with just a few more sections (expected graduation date, gpa, and general topic of the thesis). Obsidian handles it well (of course!) and I find it more pleasing than Devonthink. I just have 2 problems:

  1. I have to be very consistent. This is my fault: sometimes I ended up using different tools and that led to some difficulties in retrieving the updated docs and conversations
  2. I have to correct the thesis in word (or pages) where I can add comments for the student. I have then to remember to replace the original doc (which should also be deleted) with the new one, which is something that, with the hectic deadlines of today’s academia, I sometimes forget to do.
    These two problems are easily overcome if I am scrupulous and consistent.
    I am very curious to see what other colleagues think / are doing.

As a teacher (high school), this is a topic that I am very much interested in following. In addition to managing student information as described by OP, I’d love to hear about how other teachers might be using Obsidian effectively to manage their course load and planning.

Totally agree, point 1 in my post was exactly for this: if I manage files in Devonthink or the Finder and notes in Obsidian everything gets scattered here and there…

I also interface with graduate students (I’m a librarian) and my workflow relies pretty heavily on the Metadata Menu and Breadcrumbs plugins. For each meeting I have with a student, I have a template with all the student information (name, contact, program, etc.) in YAML format. I keep the values consistent with Metadata Menu for program/campus/research type and use Breadcrumbs next/prev to link follow up visits. I don’t do any editing in other programs like Word, but if you’re on a Mac I would recommend Hookmark to create links to the word doc right from the note so you can open it with one click (assuming your docs are stored outside of Obsidian, which is what I would do). I use Windows at work and haven’t found a good alternative to Hookmark, but I recently learned that you can drag an Outlook email into Obsidian to create a direct link to that item and maybe Word has a similar functionality?

Hi, Thanks for your response! Yes, I do use Hookmark, but for some reasons until now I used it to link Dv folders, linking the actual docs makes much more sense. Unfortunately I cannot hook to Busycal, which I use instead of contacts on my Mac.

Hi there! I also use Obsidian for my academic work and find it very helpful. In terms of your questions, I think it’s safe to have a folder structure in Obsidian where you mix md notes and other files. In fact, I think it’s more convenient to have everything in one place.

As for organizing your teaching-related stuff, I suggest creating a folder for each course you teach, and within that folder, you can create sub-folders for each student you mentor. You can use the dated notes for each meeting as the title of the md file for that meeting, so you can easily find it later.

For the folder containing docx files or pdf from the students’ work in progress, I suggest creating a sub-folder for each student, and within that folder, you can keep all their files. This way, you can easily access their work and keep track of their progress.

I don’t have specific templates for students’ cards or course management, but I do use tags to categorize my notes. For example, I use the tag “#teaching” for all my teaching-related notes, and “#research” for all my research-related notes. This way, I can easily filter my notes by tag and find what I’m looking for.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.