Using OmniOutliner to structure my Ph.D

I have been using OmniOutliner for a little while now to structure my Ph.D. My Ph.D is in Education. The structure of the final Ph.D will likely follow the format of 1. introduction, 2. literature review, 3. methodology, 4. results and analysis, 5. discussion, and 6. conclusions and recommendations.

During this literature review phase, many ideas come and go and I have been using OmniOutliner to track these thoughts to work on as possible inclusions. The beauty of Omnioutliner is that for me, it limits me to using the outliner format for headings only. All of my research notes are done in Devonthink, and my actual writing is in Scrivener. So Omnioutliner provides a quick snapshot of where my thoughts and writing are headed. For me it is a linear mind map or flow chart and keeps me focused on my writing and the topics I need to cover.

The outline reflects the documents I have in Scrivener. Sometimes I writing a document first in Scrivener and then update OmniOutliner, at times it works in reverse, particularly when I don’t feel like writing but I feel like tweeking the overall development of the Ph.D structure.

OmniOutliner levels
OmniOutliner levels
Scrivener documents
Scrivener Documents
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Closer look at OmniOutliner levels

 

I might even add in the significant journal articles as notes for the outliner level just to remind me of the references used or most important to the point of that section.

Although the flow might seem cumbersome with the duplicating of documents between Scrivener and OmniOutliner, OmniOutliner has a very flexible Export function whereby I can export the outliner as OPML which can be imported into Scrivener. Although I have yet to work out how or why I would use this.

Export from Omnioutliner/Import into Scrivener
Export from Omnioutliner/Import into Scrivener

 

Scrivener also allows for export of the document as OPML which can be opened in OmniOultiner. The OPML export can be titles only or titles and text in which the text appears in the note pane. Warning, it will be painful to read! Best to export titles or titles and synopsis only. this may be useful when you have been working exclusively in Scrivener and want any new documents to be added into the OnmiOutliner document.

Export from Scrivener as OPML
Export from Scrivener as OPML
Export from Scrivener as OPML with titles and text option. Beware!
Export from Scrivener as OPML with titles and text option. Beware!

The final feature of Omnioutliner which I have just implemented is their OmniPresence sync. It is very easy to set up and will keep a copy of your outliner document on their cloud server. My understanding is it also enables the ability sync documents to other devices. I don’t use other devices but having a copy of the document in the cloud is another backup copy should something go awry.

Of course, it’s very early days and I may alter my workflow as I learn more about the applications and how they best suit my needs.

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