Studying textbooks/articles/etc

Usually when I am studying textbooks for my classes or reading papers for my research, I will have some notes either as Word documents or in OneNote. My notes are often structured based on key points, I utilize a lot of bullet points, write down important points and phrases.

Recently, I have been thinking about alternative approaches. One thing I realized is that there may be certain topics that I may read about in various books and articles. For example, let’s say I am studying about skin cancers. I may be reading a textbook on cancer and there may be a section in a chapter dedicated to a particular type of skin cancer. So if I have a page for each chapter, I can write my notes on skin cancer. But if I read up on skin cancer later on and have some additional notes, this would have to be a separate page. So my notes on a particular topic are spread on separate pages.

The alternative is to have a page dedicated to each topic, but then there’s more friction when writing notes for a particular chapter to create and switch between different pages while reading a chapter or article. Additionally, then I don’t really have dedicated notes for textbooks, articles etc.

Roam Research seems like it could be a good solution to this specific problem. They have a section on each page for backlinks, with the context also provided. So if I have a page of notes for a textbook chapter, link skin cancer page, and write notes on skin cancer, when I go to the skin cancer page, all those notes on the other pages will show up. However, Roam Research is not desirable due to cost, privacy concerns, being online-only, etc.

How might I be able to do something similar in Obsidian? Are there any alternative approaches that would work well in Obsidian?

Create a MOC (map of content)

Obsidian has link mention similar to Roam.

What is a map of content?

I think with the Obsidian linked references, it’s not really part of the page. It’s just kind of on the side. Something like this in Roam seems like a better fit.

Obviously, I am aware Roam and Obsidian are different projects probably with different goals, but given the privacy-first, self-hosted approach of Obsidian, I would prefer to use Obsidian and try to replicate this particular feature/workflow. Is this possible? Maybe with some sort of plugin?

Watch this channel and read this; also search in forum for MOC. You might be interested in this topic

  1. Starting with version 0.9.3 you will be able to save search and insert results in a file. Watch the same channel to see whats you will get very soon.

  2. Obsidian is different than Roam because your notes are stored in plain text (i.e. markdown file) (.md). Therefore, a note is just a file while in Roam every paragraph is a block that can be called in another page. These are limitations.
    However there is a way that you can call different sections of a note in another page.

Assuming that you have a note about Skin cancer that looks like this:

Skin cancer

definition here…


Symptoms description here


Medication details here

and you have another note “Skin cancer on patients over 50’s”
In this note you can call sections from previous file like this (calling headers)

![[Skin cancer#Symptoms]]

![[Skin cancer#Medication]]


I’m confused, what is wrong with just having a sidebar dedicated to it? Is it really that much work to open the sidebar or just keep it open?

Maybe I’m just misunderstanding what you are asking about (sorry if this comments reads a bit jerky, trying to understand where you are coming from). Couldn’t you create a page about said topic and then just look for all the unlinked mentions?

Link Mentions has its limits. I stumbled on this before I knew about Obsidian. I was on Roam for a month or so.

Project Management & Managing a project is not the same on these systems. So it might force you to link them manually. My 2c.

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I think this plugin and the addition of block references would solve most of my problems and likely provides a really competitive, self-hosted alternative to Roam Research now.