Friday's Livestream from NGS 2016 Topic Methods for Success featured great speakers. And yep, you guessed it, I watched again from my rocking chair!
The day began with Elizabeth Shown Mill's presentation Reasonably Exhaustive Research: The First Criteria for Genealogical Proof.
Elizabeth began her presentation by explaining the difference between searching and researching.
Researching means making a well thought out plan and strategies and then recording our process and findings.
She likened the research steps to baking a cake. We need the right ingredients and the right process.
1) Identify the problem
2) Identify sources
3) Use the sources
4) Analyze findings
5) Write a conclusion
Explaining that some problems are easier to answer than others, we were given a few questions to ask ourselves.
Am I using all resources?
Am I applying all essential strategies?
A bulls-eye approach was suggested using steps to get closer and closer to an answer to your question.
The steps suggested were:
1) Basic Research
2) FAN Research
3) Deep Mining Sources (look at all records for the area for names of person and FAN club)
4)Topical Research: research the political, social and other influences of your ancestor and their FANS.
5) Geographic Research: Thoroughly research the areas where your problem person lived.
6) Generation Research: at least one before and one after your person.
Elizabeth presented a case study that used all these elements. She showed how she kept a research report on every source consulted whether it produced information or not.
She researched the person in question, all those with the same surname, all known FAN club members, used maps to see where people lived and more for a total for 1,0000 hours of research. All of which were recorded in her research report.
An amazing presentation with so many useful tips and examples. This is one that I will watch several times.
Did you watch it? What did you take away?
Sharing With Others: How to Convey Evidence by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom
Jeanne started off her presentation asking us if we ever wonder when we read someone's information on their family, how they know what they saw they know?
When it's not sourced, or a proof argument or written conclusion is not included, it can be hard to determine whether the research is sound or not.
Her purpose in the session was to help us understand and be able to write down what we believe about a research problem and why. She reminded us that it's not that scary because we all do it, at least in our minds when we have conflicting evidence after our reasonably exhaustive searches.
In a Proof Argument, we need to
1) Identify evidence
2) Explain any anomalies in research
3) Resolve conflicts
4) Justify conclusion
5) Persuade reader that the conclusion is valid
Jeanne suggested letting a nongenealogist read your proof argument to see if they understand and agree with your conclusion.
Remember she said, people want to know why you know!
So many great points covered in this talk. Another one to watch again and glean all that I can out of it!.
Up next was Systematically Using Autosomal DNA Results to Help Break Through Genealogical Brick Walls by Thomas W. Jones.
This presentation was a case study of how to use autosomal DNA to find answers to tough research questions.
He explained that sources are like pieces of a puzzle. Sometimes you find what you need to put solve the puzzle and get a complete picture. Other times, you have enough to give a partial view. DNA can be another tool to add a piece that fits into your puzzle.
A piece that doesn't fit can be put aside.
A focused question should always begin our research, a too vague question is a path to failure.
So in his case study, the question was who -were the parents.?
For this family, all of the necessary documents had been researched. None could answer the question. DNA was the next step.
This was the process used:
1) Supply DNA to the descendants of the question subject This needs to be enough to get a match.
2) Identify potential subjects who would answer the question by traditional research.
3) Supply enough DNA to potential subjects descendants to get a match.
4) Compare and sort out any matches between the two pools of tested people.
By doing this, Tom Jones was able to answer the question about his ancestor.
He gave this caution: DNA tests all by themselves mean nothing without a proper paper trail.
Aanother great talk by Tom Jones.
Have you used DNA to answer a research question?
After lunch we heard from David A. Rencher speaking on Ethics in Genealogy: Personal and Professional.
This was a talk all genealogists need to hear. He talked about a professional code of ethics as well as a professional code of ethics.
We should be committed to uphold the standards that the genealogy community has put forth.
Our research should be of the highest quality. We need to be able to cite our sources to help the generations coming after us know that we know what we know. It is our ethical responsibility.
Source Citation Ethics: Always cite clearly and never site a derivative as if you had looked at an original record.
Copyright: Always respect the copyright of others. Always ask permission to use someone else's work and then keep a copy of it if they say yes.
Presentations: Cite your sources.Do not copy other's works. Again, ask for permission to use a part of someone else's work.
Give attribution if given permission.
Plagiarism: Don't copy other's work and call it your own in any medium. If you see it, call it out!
These same principles apply to publishing articles.
Another point brought out was that taking pictures of slides in a presentation is not allowed in conferences during a presentation. Some presenters, when asked will agree to one or two pictures, but not the whole presentation. It is a copyright violation and is disturbing to those attending the lecture.
What about letting someone else use your login information to a paid website to look for records or research? How about those requests or offers for lookups on those paid sites? Again, it's unethical. The terms of service for these sites are for personal use only.
Why should we care about all these things?
Because we want to leave a legacy of excellence in our genealogy work.
Doughnut Holes and Family Skeletons: Meeting the GPS Through Negative and Indirect Evidence presented by Stefani Evans was the last of the livestreaming presentations.
Stefani explained that Negative Evidence is the absence of information in records where you thought it should be.
When you find negative evidence it should make you ask-why isn't the evidence there? and-what does it mean that the evidence isn't there? She warned that ignoring this type of evidence can lead to bad conclusions.
We can take the answers to the questions about why there was negative evidence and come up with theories and then other places to search.
A case study was then shown to help us understand this principle.
One of the research strategies used in her case study was to consider the cultural history of the time period to see if there was a reason for anyone to purposely omit information from a record.
For her research project, this is indeed what happened.
Again, another great lecture!
Have you ever found a record that someone had purposely qualified or omitted someone? Did you find out why?
Once again a conference has ended too quickly. I am grateful to NGS 2016 for providing the opportunity to watch, enjoy and learn from my rocking chair!
There's still time to subscribe and watch the records of all the livestream presentations. Go to playbackngs.com for information. The syllabus for the entire conference is included. An option to buy audio recordings of all the sessions held during the entire conference is also offered.
Are we kin? Please contact me. Together we can find our people.
Thanks so much for stopping by!