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Planning Your Research: Using the “To Do” List Feature

It is important for family historians to regularly analyze their work and plan the next research step before ever approaching the library. When it’s time to research, the plan should already be in place. Wandering through book stacks, library catalogs, or large websites is not an efficient way to find needed information. Write objectives (set goals), then plan the sources to be searched to meet your goal. An earlier blog post has been written about recording Searches in ResearchTies

With planning and recording searches in ResearchTies as part of your research process, you will never forget thoughts and ideas of where to look for additional evidence.

When it’s time to begin a research session, generate your “to do” list. Use the ResearchTies search engine to retrieve planned searches for the repository where you will be working. All matching entries will be listed instantly—even if they were planned months or years ago.

1.  From the home page, click on “Search Your Logs,” or click the magnifying glass in the blue toolbar.


2.  In the dropdown box, select “Searches.”

3.  Select the Repository.

4.  Select any other desired variables to narrow the hits. For example, if a user wants to focus their work on one family, they can narrow to only that family as well.

5.  In the “Include” section, uncheck “All” and select “To do.”

6.  Click “Search.” (Click on the images to view them in a larger size.)

to do Search

A list of Searches meeting the criteria will be returned. If planned searches have been fully recorded, this “to do” list will display the repository, call number, complete source citation, the scope planned for the search (who and what you’re looking for), and a link to “Add the Result.” While conducting research, access the source, search it, “Add the Results,” then save. The program will return to the “to do” list to choose the next planned item. This process will help you to be a very efficient researcher, and everything necessary to analyze the results will have been recorded in the program for future reference.

to do list

In the process of planning searches, don’t neglect to study catalogs of distant repositories that might have relevant records for the research problem. Don’t ignore the existence of those sources only because it is not an archive or courthouse with easy access. If the opportunity ever presents itself to visit that repository, you will already have your plan in place. When it’s time, generating the list of potentially helpful items will take a matter of seconds.

Every time results are analyzed, new objectives are written, or ideas come for new searches, data enter those plans and ideas. When it’s time for a session of research, whether it be online or at a library, archive, or courthouse, generate the “to do” list and work your plan. With the multi-variable search engine, it’s possible to create a list of broad or very focused “to do” items. Fewer search variables will return a broad list, more variables will narrow to a shorter list.

Goal-setting sessions, planning sessions, research sessions, and analysis sessions are commonly used by professional researchers. Plan your next searches and generate your “to do” list today!

Improved Data Entry: Autofill Feature

dropdown autofill

ResearchTies announces the recent release of a new autofill feature for all dropdown boxes in the program. When users begin typing the desired entry, the autofill feature now highlights the first matching item in gray. Continue typing until the correct entry is highlighted, then use the tab key to autofill the item and move the cursor to the next field. This feature allows keyboard data entry without needing to use the mouse. For those who prefer the mouse, the process has not changed. Begin typing, and when you see the desired entry in the dropdown, click to select it. Either method can be used at any time.

Indexing Digital Photo Collections with ResearchTies

Clarence and Bruce Gardner

Genealogists gather documents of all kinds, including photographs. Sometimes the photos are documentation for life events (like photos of grave markers), but the largest portion of our photos are typically pictures of people we love. These photos need to be preserved. One of the most significant challenges in organizing photos is to figure out how to file them so that each image can be easily retrieved in the future. The difficulty of indexing and organizing photos is no different than that of filing our genealogical documents. Once you realize how similar these issues are, you understand that a tool like ResearchTies is the perfect solution for both.

Indexing photos with ResearchTies provides organization, preservation, and instant retrieval—the same capacity applied to your documents. Using this program to index photos also means that they will be accessible from your online account at any time. It will be possible to share photos with relatives while attending a reunion or visiting in their homes. You can also create a PDF research log of the photos with active links to share with family members electronically. Learn to use and enjoy the high quality features of ResearchTies that are not found in any other research logging method.

When conducting research, it’s relatively easy to determine a research goal, locate a repository, describe a source, and record the results. To index digital photos, transfer the same concepts to a photo collection. 

Add an Objective

  1. From the home page, click on “Add Information” or click the green add button in the blue toolbar.
  2. Select “Add Objective.”
  3. The goal or objective is to index a photo collection. Writing this objective in ResearchTies can be done using the objective type, “Search a record group.”
  4. The record type is “photo.” This selection will need to be added to your dropdown list. Click on the green add button in the (record type) field, enter “photo,” then click “Add Record Type.”
  5. The place and people to record in the objective will depend on how specific you want to be. If you want one objective to cover all photos, create a place for “world” and a surname “all.” Otherwise, it is possible to specify families or surnames in combination with specific places.
  6. Click “Save Objective.”
  7. Select “Add a Search to This Objective” and click “Continue.”

 photo objective

Next, add your Search

  1. The source is the photo itself. Click on the green add button in the “Source Title” field to add a new photo.
  2. The repository of the photo is the person’s home or the archive where the photo is located. If needed, add a new repository.
  3. To add a repository, click on the green add button in the “Repository” field.
  4. Enter the name of the archive or the place where the photo is located. (For example, “Home of James Gardner”) Add any desired location and contact information for the repository.
  5. Click “Add Repository” and the program will return to the “Add Search” template.
  6. Be sure the repository was recorded, then select “photo” as the record type.
  7. The author is the name of the photographer, if known.
  8. Give the photo a descriptive title.
  9. If the photo is from an archive or other official repository, be sure to record the additional citation and collection details. If this is a personal photo, the fields can be left blank.
  10. Comments about the photo can include the date the picture was taken, the event where it was taken, or any other relevant details. The comments field is word searchable, so it’s possible to create keywords to identify groups of photos and retrieve them through keyword searches. Two examples might be the name of a cemetery, or “1951 summer vacation.”
  11. When finished with the details of the photo, click “Add Source.”photo source
  12. After saving the new source, the title and author fields will autofill as if you had selected from the dropdown menu. When recording the details of the Search, use the jurisdiction field to indicate the place where the photo was taken. If needed, it’s possible to create a place named “unknown.”
  13. If the photo is of an individual, the scope of the photo would be that person. Click “Individual” and select the correct person from the dropdown. If the photo is of several members of a family, the family could be selected. Otherwise, select the most relevant surname for the group in the photo.
  14. The record type is “photo.”
  15. Click “Save Search.”
  16. Select “Add Result to this Search” and click “Continue.”

photo search

Finally, record the results of who is in the photo. Create a result for each person.

  1. The Result date is the date the photo was acquired.
  2. Select the first individual in the picture from the dropdown box.
  3. If there are names written on the photo, be sure to include the name as it was recorded on the picture.
  4. It’s likely that there won’t be any additional citation information, unless the image is from a formal archive collection.
  5. The comments field is the place to record information about each specific person in the photo. One example might be to include a person’s age. This comment field is also keyword searchable.
  6. To attach the digital file of the photo, click on “Add File.” Give a brief descriptive name for the photo in the “Description” field, then click on “Choose File” to attach the photo.
  7. If the photo is of more than one person, be sure to add a separate result for each person in the photo.


NOTE: The “Share Source” feature in ResearchTies currently shares image links with the “Source” area of FamilySearch Family Tree, not the “Memories” area. Until we are able to program the option to choose “Memories,” you’ll need to share photos with FamilySearch (if desired) while working in Family Tree.

photo resultsRetrieving the Photos

Once the photos are recorded in ResearchTies, retrieval is as easy as locating your research documents. From the home page, click on “Search Your Logs” (or the magnifying glass icon on the blue toolbar).

Finding by Objective:

To return a list of all objectives relevant to photo indexing, select “Photo” as the Record Type and click “Search.” Additional variables can be selected to narrow the list further, if multiple objectives have been written for photos.

Finding by Search:

Select “Searches” in the dropdown box to locate entries at the Search level. For example, if you entered the name of a cemetery in the Search comment box, this would be the form to use to conduct a keyword search on the name of the cemetery.

Including “Photo” as the Record Type, conduct a search by repository to return all photos from a particular archive or an individual’s collection.

A search for a Jurisdiction along with the Record Type “Photo” will return all photos relevant to that place.

Finding by Result:

A search for Results for a specific person and the Record Type “Photo” will return hits for all photos of that person, regardless of whether they are group or individual photos.

When using the search engine for any of the three options (objectives, searches, or results), combinations of search terms can be used to further narrow the results returned. For example, it is possible to search for photos of the Andrew Bruce Gardner family of Afton, Wyoming, in my personal collection. Learn how to enter and use the different search variables to index and instantly retrieve any or all of your family photos.

photo find

A New Way to View your Data

ResearchTies is excited to announce that we have a new way to view the data you have entered into your log. Previously, it was difficult to see the Searches that were attached to each Objective. We now have an expandable view that shows attached Searches and Results with just one click. Use the Find/Select operation to narrow the list of Objectives, or leave it set to return “All” Objectives.

Objective View 1

The “hit” list will look something like this:

Objective View 2

To see the Searches attached to one of the Objectives, click on the Objective. The list will expand.

Objective View 3

To see the Searches attached to one of the Objectives, click on the Objective. The list will expand.

Objective View 4

As always, the entries in the Results columns are hyperlinks to view your documents. In the Action column, the user can add or edit data. As we continue to tailor this program to your needs, we want you to know that all feedback and suggestions are appreciated. Keep those emails coming! We are excited about this new feature and hope it helps you to analyze and view your data more easily and effectively.

Adding Data into Your Research Log and Using Lists

Have you just begun using ResearchTies? Or, perhaps this is your first time keeping an official research log. Either way, we know that the hardest part of getting organized may be the effort of getting started. So, here are a few tips to help you on your way.

What is a list?

Before starting to record objectives and searches, it is helpful to populate the database with the people, places, surnames, repositories, and sources that you use regularly. Information can always be added as you move along, but to get started it is helpful to add content tailored to your research. 

What is a list? In ResearchTies, whenever you add a new person, place, repository, source, or surname, the item is added to the appropriate “list.” This eliminates the need for duplicate data entry, because each item is typed only once. For example, if you go to the repository list and add “The National Archives”, the next time you need to record “The National Archives” as a repository for a source, start typing “National…” and select “The National Archives” from the drop-down list. 

How do I add new items to a list?

To add content to a list, click on the list icon on the blue toolbar at the upper left of your screen. (It looks like a piece of paper.) From here, you can choose which list to edit. For example, if you have been doing research in Portland, Oregon, click on the list for “Places.” Next, click on the “+Add” icon at the upper right of the list. When the template opens, add “Portland, Multnomah, Oregon” to your list of places. Now, when you record searches and results, begin typing “Portland . . .” in the Jurisdiction field, and the full place name will show in the list. Click on it, and keep going. This pattern of data entry works for all the different lists.

What about people?

People’s names can be entered by hand, or by uploading a GEDCOM from your family tree software program. To import a GEDCOM, open your family tree software program (such as RootsMagic, FamilyTree Maker, etc) and create a GEDCOM of the families you are currently working with. Then, login to ResearchTies and click on the “Import GEDCOM” button at the left of your home page. Click the “Choose file” button, and select the appropriate GEDCOM from the file menu. Then, click “Upload My File.” After the upload process is completed, all the people, IDs, surnames, marriages, and dates will be added to your ResearchTies lists.


The best first step in using ResearchTies is to add the main information that you work with regularly in your research. Add names, places, repositories, surnames, and sources that you will need to record over and over again. This first step will provide some content to work with as you get started on your journey to better organization.


Free Webinar on September 24






As part of the FamilyInsight webinar series, ResearchTies will be giving a free webinar on the importance of research logs and how to use our product. See details below:  

ResearchTies: Log Your Research & Stay on Track

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

7:00pm-8:00PM MDT

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

 Genealogy requires a commitment to organization, but without the right tools it can quickly get out of hand. Easy to use for the novice, yet powerful enough for the professional, ResearchTies is a one-of-a-kind, searchable research log. No more combing through stacks of handwritten notes or print-outs! ResearchTies enables users to search and sort all objectives, searches, results, and to-do’s within seconds. In addition, users can record web links and upload images to facilitate quick and easy viewing of documents. Come learn how research logs and ResearchTies will keep you on track and put you on the road to a paperless office and an organized genealogy mind. 

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. 

System Requirements 

PC-based attendees

Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server 

Mac®-based attendees

Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer 

Mobile attendees

Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

Class on July 20

FS logo

Riverton FamilySearch Saturday Seminar

On Saturday, July 20, there will be a class on ResearchTies at the Riverton FamilySearch Library. Come learn how this new tool can assist you in planning and tracking your work, as well as preserving and filing digital results of your research. The seminar will begin at 9:00 am with a keynote address, and the ResearchTies class will begin at 10:15. For more information, click here. Hope to see you there!

Managing Data tutorial

manageA new tutorial has just been published in the Learning Center. As we work through our research, we occasionally need to edit or delete data that was previously entered. This tutorial teaches users how to edit or delete various items in the log. Most of the data is managed through the lists and is accessible from the “List” icon on the blue toolbar. Objectives, Searches, and Results are managed through the “Search” function. This allows the user to easily locate the desired item, especially after the log contains a large volume of material.

Link to Learning Center

Learn CtrWe have added a link to the Learning Center so users can access the tutorials while they are signed in to their account. Click on your user menu and select “Learning Center.” Keep that feedback coming!

Adding Searches tutorial

The ResearchTies Learning Center has a number of PowerPoint tutorials to help users get started with this new software. Tonight, a tutorial has been uploaded to explain the process of adding searches to your objectives. Previous tutorials include: An Overview, Getting Started, Adding Sources and Repositories, and Adding Objectives. Spend a few minutes in the ResearchTies Learning Center to quickly get up to speed on recording your research logs efficiently and effectively. More information will continue to be added, so be sure to watch the site for more helpful tips.