Writing about this next innovation has been on my backlog for many months (at least 3). In a previous innovator award, I spotlighted one of the first genealogy software packages to support source citation templates following those found in Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills. These templates help the beginning and professional genealogist to accurately cite sources as part of their effort to do professional-quality work.
As early as the 1997 book, Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, Elizabeth Shown Mills has covered the topics of citation and analysis. It is this second item, analysis, that is the focus of this innovator award. In Evidence! we start to see the formation of the current classification for sources (as original or derivative) and evidence (as direct or indirect). The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual published in 2000 supports the classification of sources (as original or derivative), adds a classification for information (as primary or secondary), and continues the classification of evidence (as direct or indirect). These classifications remained unchanged in Professional Genealogy which was published in 2001. By 2006 as seen on quick sheet, Evidence Analysis: A Research Process Map by Elizabeth Shown Mills we see the formation of a new evidence classification so in addition to direct or indirect we can classify evidence as negative evidence. When Evidence Explained was published in 2007 it restated these same classifications for sources (original or derivative), information (primary or secondary), and evidence (direct, indirect, or negative).
The winner of the next innovator award not only supports Evidence Explained citation templates but has coded these professional analysis practices into their software in a way that is approachable to all. So a big congratulations goes out to Bruce Buzbee and his RootsMagic team!
Let’s look at the implementation in more detail.
In RootsMagic 3, we had a way to specify the quality of a source but the feature in RootsMagic 4 is dramatically improved.
Here is the citation quality dropdown list from the Edit Citation Details screen in RootsMagic 3:
The list contains primary, secondary, questionable, and unreliable.
Compare that to the citation quality screen from RootsMagic 4:
As you can see, RootsMagic 4 supports separate classifications for source, information, and evidence and fully supports these classification following Evidence Explained.
You get to this screen by clicking the Quality button on the Edit Source screen:
The next closest competitor of this feature is Family Tree Maker 2009, but the software fails to acknowledge the existence of negative evidence:
I am not sure when each product officially released this feature. The best I can estimate is that Family Tree Maker 2009 was released the first of February 2009 and RootsMagic 4 the end of March 2009. I was aware of this feature in RootsMagic 4 all the way back in July 2008. Since RootsMagic 4 handles negative evidence, it gets the award.
I feel that this is a transformational innovation because as more genealogists and family historians at all skill levels use this common terminology, analysis will become more consistent and communication will become more clear. Look for other genealogy software (desktop as well as online) to support citation quality following the genealogical standards in Evidence Explained in the near future.
There are some changes and additonal improvements that I would to see in the area of citation quality that I would like to address in future posts. This is truly an exciting time. Genealogy software is moving more towards helping with reserach analysis and not just the recording of research results. Thanks RootsMagic for being a leader in this area.
To see other ThinkGenealogy Innovator award winners, visit the winners page.