Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hey Kids, Stop Stumbling, Have A Research Plan

I plan on writing several articles on this topic. It is so normal to get excited, go on line and start researching. Almost eveyone makes the rookie mistakes mentioned in this article: Click Here Having a research plan corrects rookie human behavior.

So I encourage you, stop stumbling to discovery. Search with a purpose. Take the time to determine what you goal is going to be, then determine what is available for your research, then go get it.

Research plans are not merely a chronological log of your research. (I made this mistaken assumption)

Research plans involve: thoughtful planning, setting goals, working to achieve those goals, and recording your findings.

In implementing a research plan you will choose a project, set a specific goal, decide what questions need to be answered, list what you already know, seek out research guidance, and write down the steps to achieve those goals.

Now this may sound complicated, but what it is is planning. It is saving time in the long run.

TIPS: Keep your goal narrow and specific. Limit the plan to one surname. (One individual or  family group works best). 

Determine how easy it is going to be to solve the goal. This means you might avoid one of the common rookie mistakes of researching the farthest back where there is the least data. (I did this too)

Ask a whole bunch of questions: Where events were, were there disasters or epidemics, what were the migration patterns, where is my ancestor likley buried, did he have property and leave a will, was he in the service, and think of other important facts you can persue.

It is time saving to seek out research guidance. Two suggestions here: family history librariers, and the FamilySearch Wiki. has a redbook in hard cover or on line. Family History Centers Library Catalog. Then organize these findings into a document of your own for future research in similar instances.

Going through this planning process is likely to motivate you, it has me. As much as I love discovery in this meningful detective game, I much more love being focused and see goals accomplished. There are so many dead ends and so many bunny trails we can take, this process keeps you from chasing bunnies and leads to successful hunting.

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