Great to see so many interesting and thoughful posts on this forum.
I am the director of a charity that works to protect biodiveristy and operates in various fields (like economics, politics, agriculture etc) to do so. I am still at the early stages of testing out Obsidian. I am looking at how well it functions as tool for a single research project – in this case a book.
I use Roam, Evernote and Devonthink but find them unsatisfactory for different reasons.
My workflow in Obsidian has pretty much turned out to be a series of work-arounds to a number shortcomings that Obsdian has in its beta form. I should say that I think Obsidian has great potential and there is much that I really like about it. I am sure those shortcomings as a research tool will disappear over time. So, much of the workflow I have set up using Obsidian will change when those improvements come into effect.
In terms of overall structure, I have a main index page, with a series of sub-indexes listed on it. I think these are similar to what are sometimes called MOCs in the forum. I found that when the number of notes goes over a few hundred an intelligent structure becomes essential.
I also found that individual notes themselves need to have common structures. So I have created a series of templates which I star so that I can easily access them. To create a new note I copy the template and paste it into a new note. The template I use most is a temporary note template. This is a seed form of a note. Because I do not find the information displayed on the backlinks pane particuarly useful, I have created a space for backlinks on each template. I add a link to any semantically connected note in that section. I find it visually a more intelligent than what I see in the backlinks pane. It does mean I have to link each page manually, which ends up being a lot of work. Another section in the template connects notes structurally. For example, a temporary note has a link to the temporary note index. I also add a link to each note, to its relevant index page after creating that note. I also sort those note links on the index page alphabetically.
The result that one ends up with, I was surpised to see in the midst of all this amazing tech, is something very like a good contents page and good index section in a traditional book. I find this combination works very well. I can find anything I want. But it is labour intensive to create it.
On the creative side, those structures are not particularly useful. Semantic connections are useful creatively. So the graph is the feature that interested me most about Obsidian and Roam. I was hoping the graph on Obsidian would provide a parallel approach to the structured organisational contents-index system noted above. However in it’s present incarnation I find the graph fascinating but actually not useful! This is because there is no filter on what one sees. When we get filter functions, I think the graph will be amazingly useful. But for now, with about a thousand notes in the vault, the graph is an inpenetrable spiders nest. I am waiting in hope for the day when that feature appears! I also hope that in the future, some means of distinguishing structural ties ( for example the link that ties a note of a certain type to an index of that type of note) from semantic links between notes will be a feature. I’d like to be able to toggle one or other of those off. Most of the time I don’t need to see tens of thousands of links to structural index pages. I hope at some point it will also be possible to create links on the graph itself, for example by dragging a node and placing it on another node. I often see new connections between notes on the graph, but then I have to create them off the graph.
I have not explored citations yet. I am reading with interest how others are handling that!