3 Documents to Improve the Quality of your Research

Thursday, 8 Jan 2009 | by Mark Tucker


In my presentation, Navigating Research with the Genealogical Proof Standard, I discuss 3 important documents that genealogists and family historians should use:

  1. Research Plan
  2. Research Log
  3. Research Analysis

Those attending the class asked for copies of the documents.  Here is a link to the research documents in Microsoft Word format: 3 Research Documents

Three files can be used as templates for your own research.  The other three are filled in with my current research on my great grandfather, Worth Tucker, trying to determine his birth date and place.

I hope you find these documents useful.


  1. Hi Mark,
    Wish I was in this class too! I particularly like your research plan document.

    I work in a medical research lab and we use endnote (or reference manager) to organize sources and research. We can accumulate our sources of information into the program and cite as we write.

    Have you explored either of those for genealogy research?

    Kind regards,
    Joan Miller

    Comment by Joan Miller — 9 Jan 2009 @ 9:03 am

  2. Mark,

    I like your setup on these documents. I personally use Microsoft OneNote to do some of the same things. I believe I’ll make some adjustments based on your templates.


    Comment by Christy Fillerup — 9 Jan 2009 @ 9:12 am

  3. [...] Mark has these forms, blank as well as examples all filled-in, available for free download at his site. To access the slideshow and the forms, see Mark’s “3 Documents to Improve the Quality of your Research” blog. [...]

    Pingback by New Research Aids Available - Free Online — 9 Jan 2009 @ 9:17 am

  4. Mark,

    The three forms are great research aids – especially with your filled-in examples. There’s nothing like a form that’s all filled out to give the user an idea of how to make best use of the blank one. Thanks for taking the time to give such great examples.

    I just posted a bit about the forms at the “new”

    See ya’


    Comment by Leland K Meitzler — 9 Jan 2009 @ 9:24 am

  5. Mark, I was surprised at how different our methods are for arriving at our conclusions. My research logs contain the date, the film or book number that I have consulted, what they were consulted for and the amount of time that I spent. I have found that clients feel overwhelmed with anything beyond that. My research plans, while aiming at the same result, also look quite a bit different on paper. For my own research, I use one Word document to see both the plan and the resulting research with the documents and citations ready for export or printing. For client research, the report is where the analysis takes place, working from a plan that is usually a simple bibliography of records to be consulted. I have seen many, many reports that professionals have been kind enough to share with me over the last three or four years. I suspect that the organization of research logs and plans varies as much from author to author as the reports do. It was interesting to see your method and nice of you to create blank forms for those interested.

    Comment by Rondina P. Muncy — 13 Jan 2009 @ 10:33 am

  6. These are very helpful, and timely for me. I see them as working documents to solve a particular problem, not as client documents (necessarily.) One thing I would do differently is to add a brainstorming area to the plan, in order to think through possible sources to consult without nailing down exact documents right away.

    Thanks for your generosity in making the originals available.

    Comment by Barbara Zanzig — 20 Jan 2009 @ 7:33 pm

  7. Mark, I have been an advocate of citing sources for years. So I really enjoyed your Process map. It is much in alignment with my approach to a research plan/research log. I have struggled with how to record this information for some time and only in the last year have I found a methodology I like (which translates into a process I will USE.)

    I realized that my genealogy project was just a large research project. I was consistently going through the same steps that they teach you in beginning science classes…state the problem, hypothesize, gather data, analyze, conclude. So within my genealogy computer program (TMG) I have created a way to take notes of my hypothesis (what do I think is going on?). I gather the data (we diverge here as I do not record what I think I should gather.) I have another “tag” that is my analysis, This is where I gather all the locations I have looked and the results of that investigation, which may be that I didn’t find anything. And, finally, I have a tag that is conclusion….If I can get to one, I compile all the fragments of information. I state the information that supports the conclusion and the information that does not. These can get quite long. This method keeps me from looking at the same information over and over again because I have forgotten that I looked there.

    Thanks for sharing your methodology. Good job. Jill

    Comment by Jill Morelli — 12 Jul 2009 @ 8:58 pm

  8. Hi Mark.

    Any chance you could do a new post on the need for a purpose build genealogy research organizing program . . . or how to best create or adapt a database such as MS Access or Open Office, etc. I can hardly believe there is nothing to fill this gap since the development of Bygones ceased some years ago.

    I would really appreciate your thoughts as a developer on this topic.

    Thanks. Chuck B.

    Comment by Charles Bolding — 16 Jan 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  9. Nice site Mark – you’ll likely appreciate what has been done for genealogy using MS Office with Genedocs so Google it and enjoy this year’s Herald Series.


    Comment by Eric — 17 Feb 2010 @ 11:28 am

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