Sunday, October 18, 2015

Organizing research plans?

HERE are things to consider, based on a recent thread in our Facebook group. Becky asked "Question on how to organise my research plans. I'm just setting up some templates to get myself more organised in moving forward with my research. I've never used Research Plans before so I've found a template i like but do i use this for each event/fact i research? birth, death, marriage, etc. or only the ones i have trouble finding? And if i use the Research Plans for all events/facts, do i use a separate plan for each 'fact' or one Research Plan per ancestor that encompasses them all?" [See: : viewed 18 Oct 2015]

To which Pat replied " I use a research log to plan what I will research and to record my results. I do this fairly systematically with all my ancestors.

When I have a particularly difficult kinship determination to make, I may use a different tab in the workbook to keep track of all by that surname in the area at the time. This is also helpful when there appear to be two or three possibilities for say a father to my known ancestor.

That's the fun of research.

From an organizational standpoint, I'm careful to file that worksheet in my "not proved" folder for that surname until I arrive at a conclusion."

Becky then responded "Thanks, that makes sense...keep a log for everything and use a plan when something is particularly hard to find (or you find conflicting evidence). Pat, do you put the sources etc you find when following your research plan into the Plan and then also copy them all into the log?"

Pat replies "Yes I link them to a digital copy on my computer, and I cite where I found the document in my log. I'm never sure, sometimes, which ones will actually be incorporated into my proof argument."

Michele explains "Whether I use a research log for a family group, a single person or a single research question depends on the project. For example, I am working on a history of the first three pastors of Kiokee Baptist Church, the oldest Baptist Church in the state of the Georgia. It just so happens that the first three pastors were a father, son and grandson. In this case I am using a single research log for the entire family.

Another example. I have a brick wall ancestor that I am working on. I have a research log for just him. Because he is a brick wall I need to gather everything that I can possibly find on his entire life.

Another example. I am working on a specific research question on another person. I am trying to determine parents for a female. This is probably going to end up being an indirect evidence case study so I have a research log for just this one research question." (She used MS Excel.)

Pat explains "My dining room table isn't big enough to lay out the documents I find with sticky notes of individual document analysis. Nor could I readily see "trends" in those notes. It's much easier with a spreadsheet."


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