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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian Census Part 1 and Part 2 by Doris Bourrie, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
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A professional researcher must be capable of analyzing a research problem and developing a research plan to resolve the various possibilities identified during the analysis. It is therefore important that the professional researcher have an adequate knowledge of all types of genealogical records available for the area he is researching, and be able to formulate a research plan that will use all types of records to solve his research problems.
A good research plan in phase one involves:
- a. analyzing the information which was given to you by a family member or a client;
- b. defining the goal of the request, which is a question to be answered or a hypothesis to be proved or disproved;
- c. identifying sources that may answer the question or meet the goal;
- d. creating a plan for finding and accessing the sources.
A good research plan in a next (follow-up) phase involves:
- a. evaluating and analyzing the information resulting from the research, understanding if a question has been answered and whether it needs further verification;
- b. identifying each new question or problem point that arises;
- c. creating a new plan for another round of research that addresses sources which might answer questions or solve the problems.
It is important that professional level researchers have that wide range of knowledge of all pertinent genealogical records, for forming a research plan based on these records. You should be aware that there may be a number of different ways of searching for a specific piece of information. For instance, if you suspect a death, you have a number of choices of records that might provide that information:
- If a death is suspected in a period covered by vital statistics records for your area, then you might consult the vital statistics for a death registration.
- Another possibility would be a search of wills and estate records.
- Cemetery transcription records might provide information.
- Newspaper death notices and/or obituaries might be available.
- Land records may sometimes indicate when a land owner died.
- Local church records, if they have survived, might provide the information you require.
If working as a professional researcher, you should keep in mind at all times that your client has hired you on the basis of your research ability. This ability will include:
- A working knowledge of all types of genealogical records available for your area. This knowledge will allow you to choose the record group most likely to provide the information you require with a minimum of research time expended.
- You will be able to analyze a genealogical situation, and develop a research plan to further the first genealogical information provided to you.
- You should be able to suggest further steps that might be taken to obtain additional information.
- You should be able to write a clear report to your client, outlining the research done, and indicating any deficiencies that might be contained in the records searched. You will clearly indicate which records consulted were original records, and which were derivative sources.
- If the best source of information is not available to you in your locality, you would advise the client of this fact, and suggest that arrangements be made with someone who has access to the required records for that portion of the research. ____________________________________________________________
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian Census Part 1 and Part 2 offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.
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