Friday, January 7, 2011

Beginners: Research Logs in Family History

As promised in an earlier blog post, here is the next post in my series for beginners: Research Logs in Family History.

It is vitally important that researchers keep track of all the places they find information, as well as the places they did not find information. What was not found is often just as important as what was. Researchers should also keep track of all the people, organisations and repositories they have contacted. A research log gives family history researchers the tool they need to keep track of all the steps they have taken during their research - their successes and their failures.

When I first started my own research 8 years ago, I neglected to realise the importance of a research log. Please learn from my mistakes. The lack of a research log, especially in the Internet age, is a recipe for chaos! As I am 'beginning again', this time around I will be making sure I am careful to fill in a research log to keep track of all the places I search and all the people I contact! Methods and Plans in family history research are vital.

Learn more about Research Logs
FamilySearch Wiki has several articles relevant to Research Logs. A link is included to a Research Log Example.  As FamilySearch Wiki states, it is important to document as you go. I have previously mentioned the very useful and easy to follow series of articles Principles of Family History Research on the FamilySearch Wiki web site. Step 2: Decide What You Want To Learn includes the sub-step Prepare a research log. Research logs also play an important part in other steps of the research process.

Free Research Logs

Free blank research logs, as well as many other blank forms useful during genealogical research, are available in many places across the Internet:
Your genealogy software may be able to produce a blank research log. For example, in Legacy 7.4 you can produce a blank research log by clicking Reports > Books/Other > Research Log (under Blank Charts).
Creating a blank Research Log using Legacy 7.4
Another thing you could do is use the features available in your genealogy software, for example To-do lists.
Randy Seaver has a discussion about Research Logs in Genealogy Software over at his blog Genea-Musings.

You could also record notes about your research steps using note-keeping software such as Microsoft Office OneNote, Evernote, Springpad or Zotero. Further discussion on some of these options is available at:
What I have chosen to do is to use all the ideas gathered from other research logs to create my own personalised research log. You could create a research log using a word processor, note taking software, spreadsheet or database. When I have compiled my personalised research log I will create a a blog post to describe it and explain my choices.

What do you record on your research log? Do you know any other examples of great research logs?

Happy Researching!

Copyright © 2011 Australian Genealogy Journeys.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting such an interesting topic. Over the years I have become a bit sloppy with keeping my research log. Your post prompted me to have a look at the software you commented on. I am going to explore Zotero and see if it can do what I want it too, especially as before Christmas I extracted data from about 300 floppy discs onto an external drive in case I need any of that material.

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