Have you ever found a relative sharing erroneous data on your favorite research line? You're willing to take the time to politely point out those errors (to prevent others from being misled), but the complexity of how to explain your years of research settles upon your brain like a fog. You rally to the attempt, only to be thwarted by an inability to quickly locate the key supporting documents. After hours of effort, a numbing paralysis sets in at the realization that in order to adequately explain your conclusions, you will need to reconstruct your research process. The result thousands of individual family relationships that could be explained just STOP, or end up in heaps of unsubstantiated opinion files on the Internet. People have asked me over the years, how I can research hundreds of families in the same week, return to a specific spot where I left off fifteen years ago on a client's line, and in a short review period take off again. The best way to prevent a wasteful repetition of work is by consistently using an organizational system that weaves together paper files, research notes, to do lists, evidence located, and conclusions reached. This incredibly simple, yet very successful organizational system has been successfully used by thousands of genealogists. With this system, the essential evidence and its supportive explanations are located in a safe retrievable place, available for constant re-examination. This frees the mind to focus on a new hypothesis, to creatively compile a life-time of work, or to calmly summarize your work for others. In fact, this organizational system makes the entire research process more efficient.
Karen Clifford develops and teaches multiple online genealogy courses at colleges in California and Utah. She is an Accredited GenealogistÂ® Professional and a Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association. She has been President/CEO of Genealogy Research Associates, Incorporated since 1997. Her years of professional research work lead to authoring college textbooks and do-it-yourself guidebooks covering both traditional and electronic genealogy research including several books: Becoming an Accredited Genealogist, The Complete Beginners Guide to Genealogy, the Internet, and Your Genealogy Computer Program (updated 2011), and Digging Deeper: Using Essential Pre-1850 Records (2011). She was the founding President of the Monterey County Genealogy Society, a Director of the Monterey California Family History Center, President of the Utah Genealogical Association, a Vice President of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and a Vice Chair of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogist (ICAPGen) where she continues to oversee Test Development and Test Quality Control.