canstockphoto16180022 downloaded 3 January 2015Your challenge this week is to create templates to expedite your report writing, note taking, etc.

Some templates to consider are:

Letterhead: Use this same letterhead on all your letters and reports. Include your name, address, phone number, and email address.

Research Plan: In April we’ll talk how to draft a research plan in conjunction with your research question. In the meantime, just make a template of the things that would be in your research plan, like your letterhead, date, description of the problem and a numbered list for steps you will take. You might consider the OneNote method used by Caroline Pointer of 4YourFamilyStory.com. She even provides a video tutorial and some research plan templates for you to download. Note: If you don’t have OneNote on your computer, you may establish a free OneNote Online account. Then, you may copy/paste the template into your online notebook.

Research Log: Some like their log in a table format. I found I was writing a lot in the notes column, and just a little bit in the column for the title and call number or film number. For that reason, I don’t like my log in table format, but if that’s what you like, go for it!

Research Report:  Here’s blog post I wrote about making your plan also your log and report: “Ease Report Writing: Burn Research Logs.”

Thus, my research plan becomes my research report.

Things to include in your research report are:

  • Letterhead: (see above)
  • Date: Date of the report
  • Subject: Name of person you are searching with county, state, and dates with alternate spellings to check
  • Report to: “Self” if it’s for you, or the client name
  • Associates: Friends, neighbors, etc.
  • Background: Information about the target person, why you are searching a particular place, etc.
  • Objective: Name your objective for this project.
  • Limitations: What are the limitations of your assignment. It might be limited to the land records of a particular county for all men of that surname with alternate spellings.
  • Authorized: This is the amount of time authorized by the client.
  • Repositories: Where you will do your research.
  • Summary of Findings:
  • Recommendations and Research Plan: (To continue the research)
  • Records Searched and Results: This is where your research plan becomes the report.
  • Table of Documents and Bibliography:

Once you’ve made your templates, save them in Dropbox or your other online storage place. When you go to use the template, first copy the blank template and leave your original untouched. That way, you’ll always have the original available for a new report.

Some examples of research reports are available from Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, at her site, Historic Pathways.