I have told you several times how important it is to join genealogical societies and read scholarly journals. Here are a couple of past blog posts that talk about this.
I will tell you that when you first start reading scholarly journals the articles are a bit hard to follow. The more you read them the more they will make sense. Reading the research of the top genealogists in the country is a wonderful way to learn how to do things right. In the NGSQ Study group blog post listed above, I told you about the group that I belong to that meets once a month to discuss an NGSQ article. The Thursday at 9 group (the one that I belong to) came up with a list of questions to ask yourself while reading each article. Group moderator Talea Jurrens edited the questions to the final draft that we use now and she has given me permission to post the questions on the blog. This is the outline that we use every month as we discuss the articles but you can use this same list of questions yourself as you are reading any scholarly article, not just those found in the NGSQ. If you go through these questions as you are reading they will help you understand the article better. Even seasoned article readers read through the articles more than one time because you will pick up on things you missed on the first go round. Thank you Talea, for allowing me to pass this on to my readers.
1. Which kind of genealogical problem did this article address? Was it an identity problem, a relationship problem or a combination of both?
2. Was the proof argument clear and easy to understand?
3. Was the evidence adequate enough to prove the author's point?
4. Did the article show that the author had conducted a reasonably exhaustive search?
5. Was the evidence mainly primary, secondary or a mix of both?
6. Was the evidence mainly original, derivative or a mix of both?
7. Was the evidence mainly direct, indirect or a mix of both?
8. Did the author examine all the resources might be consulted for a problem of this type, location and time frame?
9. What other records might the author have examined for evidentiary value?
10. Was the article properly sourced and cited in accordance with current citation standards, such as those in Evidence Explained?
11. Was the article clearly organized so that the reader could easily follow the explanation of the initial problem to the solution?
12. How clear was the author's logic and thought process?
13. Was the writing clear, effective and interesting?
14. Was there anything you had difficulty understanding or that you found confusing?
15. How might the author have improved the writing style or article formatting?
16. What were the article's strengths?
17. What were the article's weaknesses?
18. What did you learn from reading this article?
Copyright © 2013 Talea Jurrens, used with permission
Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis