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:
- Elizabeth Shown Mills melds her analysis and research plan into one seamless report, “Example: Record Analysis & Research Plan: Samuel Witter, 17th U.S. Infantry, War of 1812 Enlistment Record: An Analysis,” found on the Association for Professional Genealogists website.
- Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi’s List shares “Cyndi’s Research Plan Template.”
That’s it. Now, it’s time to write it up!!!
- Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014), 11. ↩
- Board for Certification of Genealogists, “The Rubrics for Evaluating New Applications for BCG Certification,” (Board for Certification of Genealogists : http://bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGNewAppRubrics2015.pdf), Revised 1 January 2015, DW10, “Efficiency of research plan.” ↩