Tracking and Reporting Our Own Research

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Life has a way of interrupting plans. While we are deep into work, focused on solving a genealogical mystery, a bump in the road could push us in another direction. We set our research aside, intending to restart as soon as we’re able. But when we come back to work, the details that were fresh in our minds—names, places, dates, relationships, websites visited, records examined, databases searched—may be fuzzy or gone all together. Are we doomed to having to start again? If we have only hastily scribbled notes, random copies, and sketchy entries on family trees, chances are we’ll have to redo at least part of the research. If, on the other hand, we’ve consistently and carefully tracked our work and written periodic reports to our files, restarting will be easier.

Genealogists who conduct work for other people usually write reports detailing their efforts. Some write the reports as work progresses. Some use research logs to keep track of each step. Reporting and note-taking techniques used by professional researchers can be used by those of us who are working on our own projects—the reports will be for our own files.

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