I haven’t, not really. The development of a research plan is our next assignment for the ProGen virtual study group. I am challenged by by the assignment because I have a hard time conceptualizing all the sources there could be for any particular problem. Yet, the development of a research plan is a component of the portfolio for BCG Certification with the transcription of the documents. My anxiety over the assignment was increased when the class was referred to a research plan by Elizabeth Shown Mills which was 8 pages long! I doubt my report of findings on the work I do related to the research plan will be 8 pages long. (Anyone see the movie, The Paper Chase? )
The link for the ESM research plan is: http://www.apgen.org/resources/worksamples.html
I googled “genealogy research plans” and got articles about writing research plans but no real examples. (Is this one of those things where we say we ought to do this but the reality is quite different?) I even listed to a webinar concerning research plans which was more of a source cataloging spreadsheet system.
So….I asked two experts, Tom Jones and Craig Scott.
The issue of research plans was bothering me even last September when I was on the cruise. I had drafted, what I thought, was a pretty good research plan. I had my genealogical question, background information, an assessment, and I included likely sources, an assessment of the sources and some questions about what to do next.
Tom and Craig were consistent: They both said I needed to reduce what I wanted to find out to a single measurable question and that their research plans only include some questions about what to do next and none of the other “stuff”.
The single question comment was very interesting…My focus was to “What could I find about the elusive Frederick Eilers, second husband of Ida (nee Van Hoorn) Berg.” Both of them said that my question was too broad and must be modified to be measurable. So I changed it to “What was the death date of Frederick Eilers, second husband of Eda/Ida Berg.”
My assignment will not measure up to outlined standards if I just include the research question and a list of possible places to look. So, I will have to do more; but, I found it interesting what nationally known researchers do for a research plan. I will also find it interesting to see what others in the class create.
I think the “bottom line” is that research plans vary widely. What you write depends on whether you are trying to glean all information from an historical document or whether you have trod the research path you are traveling before. The problems may result in a plan that is 1 or 8 pages long depending on the scale of the problem. I have decided to write a plan around a relationship that I am verifying. I’ll post what I end up with (or maybe after I incorporate some of the good ideas of the study group!).
What I have done since the last posting: not much since it was just a few minutes ago…made breakfast, pet the cat, Packed book to send back to Amazon and remembered that one of my SF friends wants to hire me. I will have to contact her. Woo hoo!