Second Brain Method

A Comprehensive Comparison Between Roam Research vs Notion

Roam Research vs Notion: which tool is right for you? Discover the strengths and weaknesses of each platform in this comprehensive comparison.

May 13, 2024

Second Brain Method

A Comprehensive Comparison Between Roam Research vs Notion

Roam Research vs Notion: which tool is right for you? Discover the strengths and weaknesses of each platform in this comprehensive comparison.

May 13, 2024

Second Brain Method

A Comprehensive Comparison Between Roam Research vs Notion

Roam Research vs Notion: which tool is right for you? Discover the strengths and weaknesses of each platform in this comprehensive comparison.

May 13, 2024

woman deciding from Roam Research vs Notion
woman deciding from Roam Research vs Notion
woman deciding from Roam Research vs Notion

When deciding between Roam Research vs Notion, each has its own strengths and weaknesses. To determine which one is right for you, let’s dive into their unique features, user experience, pricing, and more. Let’s get started and find out which is the better option to implement the Second Brain method into your life.

Table of Contents

Roam Research vs Notion At A Glance

man using mouse - Roam Research vs Notion

Notion was established in 2016 and has seen a rapid rise in popularity as a note-taking tool, garnering 4 million users by 2020. Co-founded by Ivan Zhao and Simon Last, Notion's aim is to provide an all-encompassing workspace, be it for creating a team wiki, managing projects and tasks, or producing notes and documents. 

Notion's Robust Features

For many new users, Notion's interface might seem intimidating initially. Once users navigate through the initial learning phase, they appreciate the platform's ability to handle numerous work tasks in one place. Notion boasts an array of features such as to-do lists, Kanban boards, code snippets, templates, and several integrations with other tools like Google Calendar and Typeform.

Roam Research: A New Contender

Roam is relatively new, being launched in beta at the close of 2019. Since its inception, Roam has cultivated a devoted community of note-takers due to its groundbreaking philosophy, which revolves around connecting ideas and fostering the emergence of fresh thought patterns. 

Roam’s Unique Approach

Roam defines itself as “a note-taking tool for networked thought,” and its features, including bi-directional links, the graph overview, and the ability to link content at the paragraph level, attest to this statement. While both Roam Research and Notion belong to the note-taking and knowledge management tool category, they exhibit distinct features and methodologies that set them apart. The differences between Roam and Notion are rooted in their contrasting viewpoints on organizing and accessing information. While both are note-taking tools, you can elevate Notion's capacity to function as a project management tool and Roam's capability to serve as a task management tool.

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What Is Roam Research

person working from his home - Roam Research vs Notion

Roam's functionality allows for a unique approach to note-taking, as it breaks away from the traditional concept of hierarchy. Instead of having a linear structure, each page in Roam stands independently, yet interconnected through linkages. This approach creates a comprehensive knowledge graph. You can easily start with a bullet point and expand on your content in an interconnected manner. 

Roam offers various ways to present your ideas and content. For instance, you can opt for a visual representation using kanban boards, or go for a more organized approach with tables. If you wish to turn your notes into actionable tasks, you can conveniently transform them into checkboxes to tick off later. Roam facilitates quick note creation through a list of keyboard shortcuts and integrations available at the bottom of each page.

Bi-directional Linking

Roam emphasizes building connections within your notes. Every time you link to an existing topic or theme, Roam automatically creates a bi-directional link between the current page and the referenced page. If you link to a new topic, Roam generates a new page for you, connecting it to the page you are linking from.


Despite its minimalist interface, Roam includes a collapsible sidebar where most of the action takes place. The sidebar, located on the left, provides quick access to three primary menus:

Daily Notes

The Daily Notes feature serves as the default dated page that greets you upon logging into Roam. You cannot alter the heading or date, making it more of a daily journaling platform. This feature is ideal for jotting down half-formed ideas and daily reflections. Once your thoughts have crystallized, you can move them to dedicated pages for further development.

All Pages

The All Pages feature displays all your Roam pages simultaneously, enabling you to organize them by the latest tags, alphabets, or topics.

Graph Overview

A favorite among users, the Graph Overview feature showcases your progress over time through a 2-dimensional graph illustrating interconnected ideas. The nodes in the graph representing connections grow larger as you add more content on a particular topic. Clicking on a node offers insight into the interconnectedness and flow of your ideas. While the Graph Overview may not have practical uses, it serves as a visual representation of your idea flow and progress.

What Is Notion?

notion logo - Roam Research vs Notion

Notion has a plethora of features that make jotting down notes a breeze. I particularly enjoy the note-taking feature. This feature is top-notch and allows me to quickly jot down notes and organize them into hierarchies for easy access. I can use it for something as complex as team meetings or something as simple as a list of books to read. 

The text editor is both clean and clutter-free, with an editor that allows me to structure my notes to my heart's content by dragging and dropping. Plus, I can add in images, tables, code snippets, and a plethora of other content with notes using useful keyboard shortcuts that make note-taking a breeze for me and my team. 

Bi-Directional Linking

One of my favorite features of Notion is bi-directional linking. This feature establishes a two-way connection that allows me to follow a link to its destination and browse all the links to that particular page. 

In other words, with bi-directional linking, I can easily make connections between information on different pages and documents. This feature is particularly handy when creating wikis and knowledge hubs. I love being able to quickly store and reference different documents and content without wading through hundreds of documents for the right information. 


The Wikis feature puts my team's memory in one spot. Different team members can collaborate on wiki-building, making it easier to flow pertinent information within my company. When I add in bi-directional linking, it's a breeze to create a single source of truth for processes, guidelines, etc. But it's not all about work. I can also create a personal wiki for my learning and self-discovery journey.

Database Views

Do you like to have a variety of ways to view your notes? Notion makes it possible with Database Views. I love being able to view my content in various ways, such as a calendar layout, kanban-like boards, task list view, gallery layout, and timeline layout. I can also apply filters and sorts without affecting other people in a shared database. The database arrangement remains the same on other people's end. Still, it all goes away when I save the filters and sorts—they apply to everyone now.

Roam Research Vs Notion Features Compared

notion app for students - Roam Research vs Notion

Notion and Roam both have their differences when it comes to storage limitations. Notion's free version allows users to store an unlimited amount of data. There is a 5 MB limit per file upload. On the other hand, Roam does not place a cap on the amount of data users can create and store. Unlike Notion, Roam does not have a limit on file upload size. Even though Roam recommends against importing bulky files due to possible app slowdowns, users have the freedom to do so.

Note-taking Styles: Notion vs. Roam

The interface is a crucial aspect when it comes to note-taking apps. Notion follows a hierarchical structure where notes are organized into stacks and blocks. This structured approach can be a preferred choice for individuals who value organization. This structure can pose challenges when making changes. 

Roam, on the other hand, offers a decentralized note-taking approach. Pages are autonomous and interconnected, allowing fluidity and idea exploration. Making changes is more straightforward in Roam compared to Notion. Roam's interface may not be as visually appealing as Notion's.

Pricing Plans: Notion and Roam

When it comes to pricing, both Notion and Roam offer different plans to cater to varying user needs. Notion has a free plan for personal use that provides unlimited pages and blocks, sharing with up to 5 guests, and syncing across devices. The personal pro plan costs $4 per month and includes features such as unlimited guests and version history for 30 days. 

For teams, Notion offers a plan at $8 per user per month, providing unlimited team members, a collaborative workspace, API integration, and advanced permissions. On the other hand, Roam does not have a free plan but offers a free 31-day trial. The pro plan costs $15 per month and includes API access, unlimited collaborators, and unlimited public and private Roam Graphs. Roam also provides a Believer plan at $500 for five years, offering priority support, community calls with the team, and first access to new features.

Limitations Of Roam Research vs Notion

dicussion on Roam Research vs Notion


I have to admit, Notion does have some limitations. Although it's easy to adapt Notion to your specific process because of its flexible design, you and your team will need to put in some effort to set it up for effective project management and group work. This can take some time and dedication, which might be a turn-off for some users.

Text formatting and editing may not seem natural to certain people. Users who aren’t used to the layout and controls may need to become comfortable with the system before they can effectively use its many pages and dashboards. In short, Notion can be a bit of a learning curve for some, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a powerful tool for managing information and projects.

Roam Research

When it comes to Roam Research, there are a few limitations as well. To effectively utilize Roam to manage your information, there is a steep learning curve that you will need to overcome. This can be a challenge for some users who are looking for a quick and easy solution. Roam Research doesn't offer robust communication tools, so you may need to use a separate platform to communicate with others productively. 

When compared to other note-taking apps, Roam Research is also somewhat pricey. This might be a drawback for users who are looking for a more budget-friendly option. If you're willing to invest the time and money into learning Roam Research, it can be a game-changer for organizing your thoughts and ideas.

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Notion vs Roam Research: Which Tool Should You Choose?

team working together on winner for Roam Research vs Notion

Notion is a structured approach to documentation and knowledge management, while Roam Research encourages exploration and knowledge connections. Notion is excellent for structured knowledge management, collaboration, and project management. This makes it the ideal choice for users who need to work collaboratively on documents or projects. It offers the ability to set permissions and share wikis or project management dashboards, making it suitable for larger teams. 

Collaboration and Privacy in Roam Research

On the other hand, Roam Research is all about the exploration of ideas and the recording of personal knowledge. It excels at creating knowledge links and documenting progress. Roam is not built for effective collaboration, especially for larger teams. It allows you to set access permissions and make your notes database private or public. Sharing individual pages may potentially expose your other private documents to tech-savvy individuals. 

Cost Comparison: Notion vs. Roam Research

Price-wise, Notion is more affordable than Roam Research. Roam Research can become quite expensive, which could be a determining factor for some users. When deciding between Notion and Roam Research, it is essential to consider the specific needs and use cases. Notion is best for collaboration, project management, and documentation of processes. On the other hand, Roam Research is more suitable for creating knowledge links and documenting progress. Choose the tool that aligns best with your requirements and preferences.

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Why Otio Is A Better Alternative To Roam & Notion — Try Otio for Free Today

Otio is a game-changer for knowledge workers, researchers, and students struggling with content overload. It streamlines the process of collecting, extracting, and creating by providing an all-in-one AI-native workspace. It enables users to gather information from various sources, including bookmarks, tweets, books, and videos, and then distills key insights into detailed AI-generated notes and source-grounded Q&A chats. 

AI-Generated Notes and Bookmark Integration

Otio doesn't stop there; it allows users to leverage their collected sources to quickly draft outputs, facilitating a smoother transition from reading lists to first drafts. One of Otio's standout features is AI-generated notes on all bookmarks, whether they're from YouTube videos, PDFs, or articles. 

Flexible Communication and AI-Assisted Writing

Otio supports flexible communication by enabling users to chat with individual links or entire knowledge bases, similar to conversing with ChatGPT., Otio offers AI-assisted writing functionality to help users compose research papers and essays more efficiently. With Otio as your AI research and writing partner, you can enhance your productivity and streamline your workflow. 

Give Otio a try for free today and experience the difference it can make in your research journey.

Join thousands of other scholars and researchers

Join thousands of other scholars and researchers

Join thousands of other scholars and researchers