To kick off our Weekly Chats for 2015, for the first 13 weeks, let's follow along with Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over.

Thomas posted Genealogy Do-Over – Week 2: 9-15 January 2015 yesterday (8 January).

Check out Thomas' post about:

  1. Setting Research Goals
  2. Conducting Self Interview
  3. Conducting Family Interviews

And in his opening announcement about the Do-Over, Thomas said:

Remember that while the Genealogy Do-Over is a project-based learning initiative to improve genealogy research skills, you should be having fun. You should look forward to trying new approaches each week.

If you don't want to set aside all your previous research, consider taking this as an opportunity to research someone close to your family, but not related by blood, like a favorite godparent or neighbor. Thomas also has suggestions for doing a modified Do-Over -- a review of your prior research.

Are you participating in the Do-Over? Want to talk about how your week is going? Let's talk about improving our research skills.

The Weekly Chat starts on Saturday midnight, Stack Exchange time, in the Genealogy Conference chat room, and runs for the entire week. Here's a handy time converter so you can find the start time in your timezone.

Midnight GMT is 4:00 PM Pacific Time on Friday, and I try to pop into the Conference Room at some point on (my) Friday afternoon to get the ball rolling. If no one is in the room, feel free to leave a post about the week's topic for others to see.

You can register yourself to get a reminder about when the topic changes over to the next week.


Week two of the Genealogy Do-Over includes the topic Setting Research Goals.

I recently attended a webinar by J. Mark Lowe, Ready-Set-Plan! Developing a One-Step Research Plan. Here's the description from the Florida State Genealogical Society, who hosted the webinar:

The probability of creating a successful research project is greatly enhanced when the project begins with a precise statement of research goals and reasoning for the process. A strong basis of collected information is required for a solid, research plan. It is essential that a researcher be familiar with the data or evidence gathered about the subject and location of the project. A researcher with experience and knowledge of this base will be more likely to develop a good plan. This lack of knowledge about the principal research subject is the most likely reason a genealogical research plan will stumble or fail. Learn a simple technique for breaking down difficult research problems into manageable segments. Learn to get more research done while remaining focused.

As I was listening to the webinar, I realized that his process of making a good plan is a lot like how to ask a good question on Stack Exchange. The more you can write down exactly what you think you know, where you found the information, and then focus on precise, answerable questions, and think about where you can find them, the more likely you are to have success.

Lowe suggested that you write down a specific task in enough detail that you could give the task to someone else to do it. If you ever get a helper, you will be able to hand off your list of tasks for the other person to do.

Another important consideration is to set a timeframe for how much time you want to spend on a task. Suppose you hired a professional -- how many hours would you be willing to pay for someone else to do it?

Whether you are answering the question yourself, hiring a pro to do it, or asking on Stack Exchange -- you can make better forward progress by breaking the research process down into small, answerable questions.


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