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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
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
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.
classes from our Virtual Genealogy Conferences are available in ShopFamilyTree.com.
And mark your calendar now for our Winter
2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference, Feb. 22-24.