Sunday, January 26, 2020

Day 26: Organize Your Notes

At the time I am writing this, I've noticed some discussions of research logs. I've done numerous presentations where I recommend that all genealogical researchers keep a research log, and a good tool for that is Evernote. (You might prefer Microsoft OneNote, which is fine.)

First, the case for research logs is that they allow you to track such things as your research goals, your specific research questions, your searches (with all of the variations you use), your results (both positive and negative), the information you find, the evidence you gain from that information, and your arguments leading to a conclusion. You can then copy this argument/conclusion into your genealogy database software.

It has been suggested that you can keep your research logs in your genealogy database software. My feeling about that is that your genealogy database software is well designed for recording your conclusions, but not very good for the other parts of a research log.

Second, by using Evernote or Microsoft OneNote for your research log, you can easily search across your entire collection of notes for anything you might have written for anyone you have been researching. This can be much more difficult in genealogy database software.

Of course, organizing your notes can be about much more than just keeping a research log. You can make notes about educational presentations you've attended or viewed, about ideas for books to buy and articles to read, and about things to communicate to your cousins and DNA matches.

By using a well-designed note-taking tool, you can preserve all those random thoughts that might come up during research and make them searchable for later usage. You don't have to try to find that sticky note where you recorded someone's phone number, or that pad you had with you at your most recent conference that has the answer to the question you asked the presenter.

1 comment:

  1. Drew,
    Would you mind sharing the layout of your research log? If it's a spreadsheet type thing, what are the headings and in what order? Do you keep a research log per "couple" once they are married? Or is your log kept "by person" or "by surname" etc? I keep my folders by couple (woman's early years are in her parents folder) so I was thinking it would make sense to keep a log for that folder/couple and then the early years for the woman (pre marriage) would fall within her parents folder but with a link to it.

    Thank you,