D.O.C.U.M.E.N.T.A.T.I.O.N.

 
 
 





 

1 January 2015

It's a new year. You've made your resolutions, right? Of course, No. 1 is I shall—from this day forward and forevermore—provide complete and accurate documentation for all my research.

Wonderful!  But what, exactly, does this call for?  For EE users, it means:

  1. Every statement of 'fact' that is not 'common knowledge' must carry its own specific identification of source.
  2. Citations have two equally important purposes: (a) to identify the source so it can be relocated; and (b) to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the source so others—and we at a later date—can evaluate the reliability of whatever information we take from that source.
  3. When a published source identifies its own source, we should cite the source we actually use and then identify what our source says it has used.
  4. When a published source makes an assertion without providing evidence, we should note this point on anything we extract from that undocumented source.

Isn't it nice to make a resolution that's so easy to follow? Yeah, right! But it becomes a whole lot easier when we remind ourselves that a few minutes spent on that documentation, right when we're eyeballing the record, can save us hours or months of clean-ups and corrections at some point down the line.

 


PHOTOCREDIT: "New Year Resolutions," CanStockPhoto (http://www.canstockphoto.com/images-photos/resolutions.html#file_view.php?id=21508967 : downloaded 4 December 2014), uploaded 16 August 2014 by PixelsAway; used under license.

Jade
Jade's picture
Source citations

Excellent New Year's watchwords.

Regarding point no. 3, "When a published source identifies its own source, we should cite the source we actually use and then identify what our source says it has used," it is wise to recognize that sites providing instant-cites to click on can be very flawed.

For example, FamilySearch.org often provides citations for Historical Records that may describe where to find an uploaded image, but give no hint at all what the image is from.  In a database of Pennsylvania County Marriage Records, the citation omits what County the record was from as well as any book:page reference.  In other record groups, the instant-citation often gives an incorrect name for the volume or file that the document was from.

One must be ever vigilant.

Happy New Year,

 

Jade

EE
EE's picture
Jade, your "voice of

Jade, your "voice of experience" here is well worth heeding.

The Editor