How to Use Tags and Links in Scientific Literature note taking? (Life Science , Technology , Engineering)

STEM folks, How do you take your scientific literature notes?

Recently I came across this intriguing Tweet both thoughtful and informative.

There, the author shows an informative Graph he generates as he described using
tags for topics and read type (full, abstract, lecture), then using backlinks for key bio phenomena (e.g., metastasis, oxphos), author names, and protein names. I’ve found it works best to make a first pass w/ bullet points, then run back through to add backlinks.

I believe having well-defined Tags / BL will definitely help to generate new knowledge /brainstorming.

I would like to know any other STEM folks;

  • How you use Tags and Backlinks when taking scientific literature notes?
  • Do you have some names (e.g. Metabolism) for both Tags and Backlinks?
    -How do you differentiate Tags and Backlinks for your system?
  • Do you categorize your literature based on subject keywords
  • Do you categorized them based on Author (i.e. PI / Lab group)

I couldn’t find this Author’s full name to track down :slight_smile: Looking forward to hearing from other STEM folks how your system arranged :relaxed:


I can’t add anything to the discussion yet (2nd day with Obsidian) but I am also interested in following along and hearing other STEM use-cases. I am about to start my PhD in Aerospace Engineering and want to make sure I have a good organization system in place for my research, personal notes etc.

From most of my initial research on Obsidian and academic work, most of the users are not in the STEM field. Perhaps this is due to the inherent nature of Obsidian and linked-note systems?

Either way, I suppose I will find out soon enough… I will be sure to share my progress or findings as I learn how to use Obsidian, how to better organize my thoughts and how to better research.


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Does anyone have an update to this question? :slight_smile:
Recently I came across this interesting Youtube video on How to Organize Research Articles Using Notion

If we could implement such a method into Obsidian would be great.

  • How do you use Tags and Backlinks when taking scientific literature notes?

I’m not in STEM, but do use Obsidian for taking notes on academic papers.
I use tags for topics, and [[links]] for authors. In this way, authors get their own page, with a list of everything that I have from and about them in my vault. (I have 2 dataview queries to set that up; one searches for the [[author]], the other one for tags with the author’s name – so if I have a paper about someone, that will show up there.)
This system has been working reasonably well for me.

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I am so glad someone started this conversation. When I write in my notes from a research paper, I create a top note with *firstauthoryearshortenedarticletitle. in that top note, I write in why I read the paper. tag my big ideas like #inbreedingdepression or #inclusivediscussion. I might also have a top note with those ideas as well that I backlink to. but the tag helps me go back later and backlink if I forget right then. that is as far as I’ve gotten after maybe a year working in obsidian and building a Zettelkasten. I haven’t tried to use my ZKN to actually write a paper yet though.
I would love to hear what others do.

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