Detailed logs are an important tool in organizing your genealogy research.
These Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference tips come from the video session “Research Logs for the Rest of Us,” hosted by Thomas MacEntee.
- It’s important to understand the “why” of using a research log. If you’re using a log only because you know other people who are doing so, then you’re wasting your time. Understand the benefits of tracking your research journey.
- Select a format that you will continue to use. For instance, it is a poor idea to start your research log in Excel if you don’t like using spreadsheets. Use a format you are comfortable with. Otherwise you’ll only frustrate yourself and abandon the log.
- Spend time setting up headings or categories. When you use a spreadsheet or table, take time to consider which headings to use. Don’t be afraid to add or remove headings over time. It’s only through constant use of the research log that you’ll figure out the best headings for your research.
- Shoot for a “one pass” goal. When you find a record or piece of information, note all of the information as if you might never find it again. This means noting the date you found it, the type of record, and even whether you are transcribing or abstracting it. You’re only kidding yourself if you say that you’ll come back to it later.
- Maintaining a research log is a discipline. A discipline created through handwork, dedication and repetition until it becomes habit. Realize that you will make mistakes the first few entries, then you’ll become better at entering information accurately and quickly.
- Source citations matter, but take a shortcut! Create a cheat sheet–a document or spreadsheet tab where you can keep the most commonly used source citation formats. Then you can copy and paste them over to your research log to fill in the blanks.
Ready to start your own research log? Click here to buy this video session and get started documenting your research today.
Video classes from our Virtual Genealogy Conferences are available in Family Tree Shop. And mark your calendar now for our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference, Feb. 22-24.