canstockphoto16180022 downloaded 3 January 2015Time to make a plan!

What is a research plan?

“Genealogy Standards #9: Planned Research,” reads, “Genealogical research beings with and follows dynamic plans for gathering information from – or images of – resources. The plan’s purpose is to meet stated objectives, usually in the form of research questions.”1

Elements of your research plan should:

  • state your research question. It should be simple and measurable. For help writing your question, see my post, “Define Your Research Question.”
  • include the background information you have discovered for the time and place. For help see, “Discover Background Information.”
  • include your plan for answering the research question
  • show the name variations you will search and other surnames of interest
  • plan to use “the most commonly used sources relevant to the research focus … [and gives] priority to the most logical sources.”2
  • fully identify the sources you plan to examine, where they are located, and what you are looking for in each one
  • group sources to search according to facility or site of accessibility and put them in the order you will search them. For help see, “Determine Research Sources.”
  • include any forms or charts you will fill in during your search

There is no “one size fits all” plan, nor does it need to be a lengthy paper. The best plans have a simple, measurable research question and the next steps you will take to answer it. 

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

That’s it. Now, it’s time to write it up!!!

  1. Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.:, 2014), 11.
  2. Board for Certification of Genealogists, “The Rubrics for Evaluating New Applications for BCG Certification,” (Board for Certification of Genealogists :, Revised 1 January 2015, DW10, “Efficiency of research plan.”