8 Essential Elements To Create The Best Genealogy Research Plan

In this article I’ll explain why you need a genealogy research plan and how to create on quickly and easily. Better yet, you’ll be able to re-use elements of your plan so you aren’t re-inventing the wheel every time you switch research projects.

8 Essential Elements To Create The Best Genealogy Research Plan

What is a Genealogy Research Plan?

First let me tell you what it’s not. A Genealogy Research Plan is not the same as a research log. Whilst the two tools might compliment each other they are not the same thing.

A research plan sets out the who, what, where, why and when of your project. A research log records the findings and logs your thoughts, theories, evidence.

Blank genealogy research plan

A research plan sets out how and what you are going to do in order to get to the point where you’ll have something to log! 

Why You Need A Genealogy Research Plan

Imagine you started your project but had to give it to someone else to continue. A well written genealogy research plan would make that perfectly feasible. This means that if you start your research and then get busy at work or with the kids, you will be able to pick up where you left off.

A decent research plan will help you see holes in your evidence BEFORE you start searching for new information.

Better still, an effective research plan will speed up your research logging and lead to less repetitive data entry.

Personally, I’ll also take any excuse to use post it notes and buy myself a nice new pen!

Creating A Genealogy Research Plan

The 8 Elements of a Genealogy Research Plan

Save this handy diagram and you’ll never forget any of the 8 elements you need to create your Genealogy Research Plan.

8 Elements of a Genealogy Research Plan

Clear Goals: The Heart of A Genealogy Research Plan

In order to have a plan, you need to know what you want to achieve. Read more on goal setting here.

Prioritised Tasks: Essential For Progressing Your Genealogy Research Plan

Your priorities may change over time so keep this list up to date. Your genealogy research plan is a living document. Read here for tips on project management.

Collation Of Existing Facts: See Your Gaps

Whether you decide to create a detailed timeline using genealogy software, or a bulleted list of existing facts, will depend on your level of tech confidence and the size or complexity of your project.

But you will need to examine what you already know in order to see any gaps – either in sources or in data.

Lateral Thinking: Every Genealogist Needs This!

OK, so this isn’t a documented part of your Genealogy Research Plan it is an essential element to actually completing the plan. For information on how to use cross-referencing to ‘think outside the box’ then see here.

Data Recording Process: How will your Genealogy Research Plan work with your log?

How are you going to record your findings and your research process? You might want to use genealogy software, spreadsheets or simply put pen to paper. Make sure you know how you are going to record what you find INCLUDING your sources before you get started. Otherwise you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by a mountain of unorganised data. Queue massive overwhelm!

Data Storage Plan: Ensure You Can Find Your Research

Once you’ve got your data, where are you going to save it (digitally)? Or store it (paperwork, photos)? How are you going to ensure you can find your records? Create a filing structure that works for you. I hope to write about this soon!

Search Terms: Write It Once & Save Time

Your search terms will vary depending on what you are researching and where. For example, if I have an ancestor called Ebenezer Davies – I’ll probably always search for him by including his first name – Davies is common, Ebenezer isn’t. Whereas, if I’m searching for my ancestor Edward Blee, I’ll probably always look for just Blee. It’s unusual enough that I’m not swamped with data and any Blee’s that come up are likely to be mine.

Record each of your search terms and label them (e.g. Search Term 1 = Blee, no other details). Now when you come to log your searches in your research log you won’t have to keep stating how you searched. Instead you can simply cross-reference to your genealogy plan – i.e. for this search I used ‘Search Terms 1’.

Source Lists: Your Genealogy Research Plan is a Living Document

You might find you end up adding to these lists, but it pays to at least note at a high level where you intend to look. Again you can cross-reference this list on your research log (speeding up that recording process).

Make sure you detail where the source is held. For online records include the original repository. You never know when something might move or disappear offline.

Related Posts

#TwiceRemoved with Emma Jolly

Expert genealogist Emma Jolly shares her Black Country ancestor discoveries. Find out about this important industrial area of Britain. What were the lives of the people that lived there like?

Read More »

#TwiceRemoved with Naomi Clifford

What was life like for those at home during the WW2? Naomi Clifford discusses the Blitz diaries she discovered, the life of the woman who wrote them and explores the real lived experience of the Blitz.

Read More »

Join The Curious Descendants!

If you enjoyed this then you’ll LOVE my Curious Descendants emails. I send daily emails packed with genealogy tips, ideas and stories. Plus a weekly roundup ensuring you’ll never miss one of my articles (or an episode of #TwiceRemoved) ever again.

CURIOUS DESCENDANTS

Never miss a blog post or an episode of #TwiceRemoved ever again. Plus get daily family history tips and a weekly news roundup delivered straight to your inbox. All for FREE!

Gift Certificate
Links

Purchases made via these links may earn me a small commission – helping me to keep blogging!

Read my other articles

visit

THE CLUB

Start writing your family history today. Turn your facts into narratives with the help of the Curious Descendants Club workshops and community.

RESEARCH

Discover your family history. Whether you need me to research from scratch or take your existing work further. My service is fully tailored to your exact requirements.

GIFT CERTIFICATES

Give your loved one a gift that will last a life time – family history research or lessons. This is the ultimate personalised gift. One they will treasure forever.

Copyright © 2020 Genealogy Stories | All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Cookies

The Curious Descendants

Get daily family history hints, tips and ideas, plus a weekly round up of the latest genealogy news. All  delivered straight to your inbox FREE! Never miss a blog posts or episode of #TwiceRemoved ever again.

p.s. I hate spam so I make sure that you can unsubscribe from my emails at any time (or adjust your settings to hear more / less from me).