Do you have any hints about writing the Case Study?

One of the requirements is to write a case study which indicates the usage of indirect evidence in formulating the proof.  You have three choices (note: these are taken directly from the BCG Application Manual).  I am using the first:

  •  assembling and correlating indirect evidence
  • resolving a conflict between two or more items of direct evidence
  • resolving conflict between direct evidence and indirect evidence

For the past couple of days I have been rewriting my case study based on my readings.  It is a difficult paper to write because you have to get the information to flow logically and you probably obtained the information out of sequence.  For this paper I am really relying on my reading of examples, the ESM article in the September 1999 NGS quarterly and the examples in the Standards Manual.

The problem I am using is that of my great grandmother, Grietje (nee Wienenga) Bode.  She immigrated with a family that was not her birth family at age 15.  She married at 19.  I have lots of information about her in the US.   I had looked for a long time but hadn’t found a link to the name of her village in Europe.  Eventually I had to 1.) identify a sister, 2.) find out where the sister was from, 3.) see if the sister and Grietje showed up in the same village parish record and then 4.) see if they had the same parents.  There was enough information from a wide variety of sources that led me to finally conclude that Eda Eckhoff (married name) was her sister.  I admit that with today’s electronic databases (IL marriage, e.g.) this problem would not have taken so long to resolve.

Here are some hints for writing this paper.  I am no expert on these….in fact, I am listing them because I am still struggling with them.

  1. pick a simple discovery.  Do not go for your most complex one.  I say this because by the time you are done, even the simple one will be many pages, and many sources long
  2. define the problem you wish to write about.  I struggled with whether I was going to prove a tradition or find Grietje’s village or her parents or what.  Carefully define what you are trying to solve.
  3. Start at the beginning.  This is often hard to determine or at least harder than you think.
  4. Build your information from the perspective of the reader not from your perspective.  This may mean some sources come into the narrative earlier than you actually discovered them.
  5. Walk away from it every once in a while.  When you come back you will look at it with fresh eyes.
  6. If your argument is weak in some areas admit it and see what you can do to strengthen it (a source you hadn’t thought about, an interview you hadn’t done)
  7. I think the hardest part is deciding what NOT to put in.  There are often so much “chaff” surrounding these types of conclusions it can be difficult deciding what not to include.  (That’s why I am at 11 pages!)

Happy hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post:  written and rewritten the case study document.  It is better now than it was primarily because it is more tightly defined, I worked at starting at the beginning.  It still suffers from too much “chaff”.

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