When I decided to start using research calendars, I made a huge step toward becoming a better researcher. Back when I first began doing research I thought that they were a total waste of time. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Whether you call it a research calendar, research plan or research log, it is simply a systematic and organized record of every source that you have checked and plan to check along with the results of the searches. There are a couple of reasons to take the time to do this. First of all it keeps your thoughts focused. It is very easy to go off on tangents when you don't have a plan. It will also keep you from accidentally duplicating your efforts. Can you really remember all of the sources you checked 5 years ago? If you don't keep track of your negative searches you will end up looking at the same things over and over again.
I prefer to have a separate research calendar for every specific research goal that I have. I have found that keeping the goal narrow helps me stay on track. There are some researchers that prefer to have a single log per person or per family group.
GENERAL - Research the life of John Doe
SPECIFIC - Who did John Doe marry? [my preference]
The easiest way to explain a research calendar is to show you one. Here is a real research calendar on a real brick wall I am working on. The last two items on the chart have not been done yet.
The form you use isn't important. If you do a search on Google using the terms, "genealogy research calendar", you will find a plethora of different forms you can use or customize for your own use. I have mine in Microsoft Word. Many of the genealogy database programs have built in research logs that you can use.
Here are two excellent video lessons by G. David Dilts A.G. on how to use research logs effectively.
I am sure you will be a believer after watching the videos. One thing I do differently is I keep my logs (and everything else) on my computer instead of in paper files. The only other thing I do differently is I have a separate research calendar for each specific research goal. Mr. Dilts does one log per family group. His research logs contain a extra column where he states the research goals. WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU! I find my method keeps me on task better; Mr. Dilts' method causes me to be more haphazard because I tend to be ADD.
Before I switched over to the computer, I did my research calendars and my paper filing system just as Mr. Dilts does. His filing system is based on the one recommended by the Family History Library.
Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis