I was thrilled to see that I can actually import the recorded files of my subject interviews into my research. However, common sense tells me there must be a limit to how much volume a project can take.
For an average project, it's not uncommon for me to accumulate up to 20 or more conversation recordings each lasting about 2 hours. That's 40 hours of video. Even if I were to convert the files to audio only before storing them in research, I still have the concern as to how much volume the application supports without compromising functionality and/or reliability.
Scrivener only loads the files that you're actually using. Having very significant research materials will not affect your ability to write and edit in Scrivener.
However, Scrivener automatically backs up your project at regular intervals. (See the Scrivener -> Preferences -> Backups pane for the relevant settings.) This will take longer as your project gets larger. Similarly for synchronizing with a cloud service, indexing, or any other operation that requires reviewing the entire project.
If you expect to have extensive research materials, you might want to consider the Import -> Research Files as Aliases option, which leaves the research materials outside the project but accessible through the Binder. If you expect to use the same materials for multiple projects, you might also consider using a separate research database.
Katherine... Yes. Thank you for pointing out that distinction between active task, and project backup. My concern was not so much about how it might affect my active tasks. It's more the other. I worry that as the volume accumulates, Scrivener's ability to save and backup all the volume could cause it to simply crash (i.e. quit on its own without saving anything), or the dreaded beach ball scenario where nothing eventually happens and you have to force quit or reboot.
Your idea about using an alias had not occurred to me. That might be the solution right there! Thanks so much.
Routine saves only affect the sub-files that have changed.
Full project saves and backups use very low-level Mac OS tools, not much different from accomplishing the same task via Finder. You're likely to see unacceptably slow performance long before you see actual failure of the operation.
With that said, Scrivener's own automatic backups should not be your only protection against data loss. At a minimum, IMO every Mac user should have a Time Machine volume. I'd also recommend an offsite backup for critical data.