A few commenters have asked me for samples of my research log. I hesitate to supply it because mine is so informal and not necessarily a good example for others to follow. But in the spirit of helping others, I offer it up.
I keep my log in Evernote. I have a notebook there called “2017 Research Log” and each time I do some research I try to create a log entry. I create a new note in the aforenamed notebook and head it with the date. Then I just type notes that I think might be useful in the future. I try to include what I was looking for, what I found and what next steps would be.
Here’s why it works for me:
- First and foremost, it is easy for me to keep up. I just jot some notes to my future self and don’t get hung up on filling out a complicated spreadsheet or making sure I have every bit of information. For me, making it easy enough so I’ll actually do it trumps making it more complete.
- It’s searchable, so I can easily search by person or surname. I could tag it by locality, family line or other category, though so far I haven’t done that.
- Did I mention it’s easy?
Here’s a screenshot of a recent entry that’s fairly representative.
I used to use a template in Evernote, one that I created when I was partnering with the dear departed Springpad. (I put that template at the top of this post; click on the image to make it bigger.) But I find I do better writing free form–I think it brings more information out of me.
Earlier this year I was experimenting with using the Log function in Reunion, also writing free-form notes, but I’ve discovered I prefer Evernote. I use Evernote on a daily basis for various aspects of my life and business, so I’m very comfortable with it.
I should mention that one downside to using Evernote as a research log is that it’s not sortable. It is searchable and taggable, but I can’t sort it like I could a spreadsheet. So far that hasn’t been an impediment to me.
I don’t think there’s any one right way to do a research log, but I’m pretty sure there are better ways than mine. But it’s working well for me at the moment.
If you are a spreadsheet person and aren’t intimidated by the opportunity to enter a lot of data, by all means check out Tom MacEntee’s amazing research log spreadsheet.
Also, if you haven’t already feel free to join my Genealogy Research Loggers Facebook group for more conversations about research logs (as well as some samples from others).