Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Forming Up Your Genealogy--Part 13 Research Logs

As a general rule of thumb, I don't use research logs. I use a user-defined column with coding along with notes made in my genealogy software. However, I have perused the research logs of friends...sometimes offering sympathy because their efforts have yielded so few results...other times offering unsolicited advice!

The web is littered with lots of examples of logs. The logs I find are usually portrait oriented. My first question is why portrait? I would landscape it without a second thought because I would want more space for each entry. If I really consider it, I'd make it an Excel spreadsheet but we won't go there in this post.

In looking at the logs that other people have created, I can see that the next planning item to tackle is to decide on the information I want to track in a log. Am I going to use a document numbering system? Will I use the log as my citation source? Will I want to include an evaluation of what I've found? Each of these questions and lots more need to be answered before I can put fingers to keys and begin to design a form.

If I think seriously about the information I'd want to collect, here are the types of column I'd include:
  • Document Number: Will I use it?
  • Date: When did I look for it?
  • Repository: Where did I look for it? Is it an online link?
  • Results: Did I find it or not?
  • Abstract: Can I describe it in a few words?
  • Analysis: How reliable do I think it is? What did I deduce from it?
  • Source: What fields do I need to write a proper citation? Can I use my genealogy software to design these fields?
If you've been reading these post regularly, bells and whistles should be going off as you relate the information you're trying to collect in the log with the three types of fields you can add to a form. For example, you might consider splitting Repository and adding a type drop-down list that includes entries like Library, Archive, Online, Court House, and so forth. You select the type in the first field and enter the name of the repository in the second field...or is a type important to know?

I'll stop for the moment and let you ponder what you are going to want to put in your form. I'm sure you can already see that this is going to be another series of posts as I figure out what I want to include in my form.

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