When building your dream home, you don’t go in without a plan. You meet with a general contractor, architect, and engineers to draw up the best plan in order to get you your desired end result. Each contractor working on your home works from these plans. It’s not a random process at all. It is thoroughly thought out and planned. Just like a blueprint and a construction plan, it’s best to go into your genealogical research with a plan. Research plans are not just to-do lists, they are plan of attack on a process that can be frustrating and help you stay on track, focused, and more productive. Here’s how you can build your own genealogy research plan in just 6 simple steps.
In keeping with the home building analogy, when starting to build your home, you’re likely to go into your first few meetings with a wish list. This list contains the things you want most out of your home. Similarly, you need to take your “wish list” into your research. What are your main goals for your research? Set a clear goal for yourself.
Prior to building, you and your general contractor are going to assess the situation before you break ground. The ground where you’ll build will be surveyed, your budget will be evaluated, etc. Before you begin your research, assess the information you’ve already found. This helps reset a clear picture in your mind.
Now that your general contractor has looked as the land, they understand what grading needs to happen, if any retaining walls need to be built, etc. Once you have a general idea of where you stand with your already gathered information, you can assess what needs to happen before you pour your foundation. There may be holes in your research that need filling before moving forward to accomplish your goal.
The interior and exterior design process is one of the most fun parts of building a new home. Just like with building, here’s where your research plan gets fun! You’ve set clear goals, you’ve reviewed what you know, and now you need to compare the two. Brainstorm ideas on how you can get the answers. Which materials do you need to explore? Does this involve cluster genealogy? Researching different records? Here’s where you get to design your plan of attack and your to-do list.
Now that you have a solid plan, you get to break ground on building your dream home! Here’s where you get to start digging into your research and checking off items on your to-do list — the really fun part.
While a research plan is incredibly helpful, they are not always 100% effective or fruitful and will not always produce results. Sometimes you need to reassess and try again. If this happens to you, don’t give up! A research plan may not always ensure answers, but it does ensure an organized, thorough way of efficient research.