Correlation and Validation

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Eureka! You’ve found the record you’ve been looking for. It’s right where you expected it to be. The names, dates, places, and situations are consistent with the people you’re researching. You’re tempted to celebrate, thinking you have the information you need. But you’re a responsible researcher. And responsible researchers don’t celebrate based upon something found in just one source. Celebrating must wait. There’s more work to do.

Because any source can be wrong, conscientious researchers check multiple records that should or may provide the same piece of information. They compare and contrast their findings from those sources. This process of comparing and contrasting is called correlation. It is an important element of research, for there is no way to tell if a piece of information is likely correct or incorrect unless it is compared to other data found in other sources.

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