Why is it necessary to track my research?
Mainly because I have unwittingly doubled up on my research. More often than I care to admit. Often more than twice for the same information. Also, I have ignored obvious sources of further research. I have frequently been distracted by those Bright Shiny Objects (such as my favourite Land Registers pictured above). So let me just admit it. My research process has just grown haphazardly over the years. And it shows. If I had only taken more care updating my processes for keeping track of my research I would have saved so much time.
Genealogy Research Log
In 2014 I set aside my pen and notebook for a tablet and Legacy’s To-Do List.
So I have been rather dismayed to read of the enthusiasm for using a spreadsheet based research log. Just something else for me to lose track of I thought. My sister agreed. Keep everything in the one place she said.
What in ever was I worried about? In listening to Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over webinar for Legacy Family Tree I found my post decision justification.
With very little tweaking I have now created a general Legacy To-Do Item template containing all the elements I wish to include in a research log. Particularly new is the note to remind me to add any relevant file names or links. Thank you Thomas MacEntee for that tip.
Now it’s just a simple matter to copy the template to a new To-Do Item. This is analogous to a creating another line in a spreadsheet based Research Log.
Furthermore, I have done a couple of other things to clean up my research process. First, I have aligned the To-Do Item Categories to the names (or Categories) of my top level Media folders. Well, mostly. If necessary, this adjustment should make it even easier to find my Media files. Next, I have the one place – in Legacy’s To-Do List – for the three levels of my planned research:
- The top level To-Do Item will outline my research plan for a three month period. My current research plan, for example, is my plan for the Genealogy Do Over. One element of this plan is to establish my connection to my three greats grandfather, George Watts.
- The second level To-Do Item is more specific. For example, the goal here is still to establish my connection to George Watts. But at this level I have listed the birth, marriage and death information I am relying on to establish this connection. These include birth and marriage information for myself and birth, marriage and death information for:
- Donald George Baulch,
- Parke Egbert Baulch,
- Eliza Ann Porter and
- Lydia Watts.
- The bottom, or more detailed, level of my To-Do Items is creating a To-Do Item that is equivalent to a line in aspreadsheet based Research Log. At this level I have a To-Do Item for each step in establishing my connection to George Watts. These are:
- in my record, a To-Do item for establishing my connection to Donald George Baulch,
- in the record for Donald George Baulch, a To-Do item for establishing his connection to Parke Egbert Baulch,
- in the record for Parke Egbert Baulch a To-Do item for establishing his connection to Eliza Ann Porter,
- in the record for Eliza Ann Porter a To-Do item for establishing her connection to Lydia Watts and
- in the record for Lydia Watts a To-Do item for establishing her connection to George Watts.
I like that, at this level, my Individual To-Do Item (or line in my Research Log) is attached to the relevant Individual in my family database for easy access and not in a spreadsheet somewhere else.
So, with all these To-Do Items created I was ready to conduct my research. New in 2015, and as part of this Genealogy Do Over, is my resolve to apply one of my Genealogy Golden Rules to assign SOURCES to the relevant To-Do Item FIRST. I then assigned Sources and linked Media to the relevant Individual Events. This is done as part of the initial research process and before any further consideration. No more leaving Sources and Media until last. In the past leaving Sources and Media to last has meant that information I am relying upon has been lost somewhere on a computer drive or somewhere in a box of papers! Such a practice is now history.