Why are some genealogists more effective than others? One reason may be that these researchers are focused on a specific objective and apply known methodologies to their work. Experience teaches that certain records provide specific types of data, which then can be used to locate additional information. Wandering through shelves and websites hoping to find something that might mention an ancestor is inefficient and ineffective. It is important to have goals to guide our work.
The first step in any research project is to set a goal. Large, overarching goals are good for long-term direction, but very specific objectives are best for directing day-to-day and month-to-month work sessions. ResearchTies facilitates the recording of objectives and displays the current objective at the top of the form. Remembering the objective helps researchers to stay on track and reduce time spent wandering.
Most researchers begin their work with a preliminary survey to determine what research has already been completed by others. After learning what has already been done, genealogists will notice pieces of missing information, dates and places that are not documented and need to be verified, and events in an ancestor’s life that raise questions. All of these can be addressed by formulating objectives to learn more.
When writing an objective, it’s possible to be both specific and a little general. Determine exactly who the question is about. Is a marriage for a person missing? Is a census survey for a family needed? Would it be helpful to analyze the tax records for every male with the same surname in a place for a certain time period? Searching for the marriage of an individual is a narrow search, and searching census records for a family will be more broad. However, the most important concept in writing objectives is that they be achievable. You need to be able to declare an objective “complete.” In these two cases, the marriage objective would be complete when the desired (or available) information has been located. The census objective would be complete when all census entries for all family members are found or determined to be missing. Objectives so broad that they can never be completed are not helpful.
Become familiar with the fields available in each objective type, and realize that there is more than one way to write an objective. For example, searching the marriage records of a place for an individual is essentially the same as identifying the spouse of an individual. The way the objectives are formulated is a personal choice, and the program allows that flexibility. Also, an unlimited number of Searches can be added to any one objective. Whatever it takes to complete the goal, ResearchTies will help you record and remember.