Research Journals

If you are working on a long-term project and need to do research on it, it’s a good idea to have a research journal. That’s a journal where you record where you searched, what you looked for, and what you found. I have been using OneNote for my family history research journal. It’s useful in that you can add pages on the fly, which are already date and time stamped. If you are doing research online, you can capture screen shots of the data right into OneNote. However, it can get somewhat disorganized after a while. The file can also get rather large. My solution is to see if I can move the pages I created last year into Scrivener. OneNote lets you send pages to any Office product, so I will do that. I will export the text, and any images to Word. Then I will import it into Scrivener. I have been organizing my journal so that it reads better then I will begin the move to Scrivener as an archive. I will continue to use OneNote, but I think I will be better served if I just put my archived material (pages from previous years) into Scrivener, where they can be compiled into a PDF file or even just a single document. I rather think the PDF file would be best. That’s what I’m doing.

Having a research journal allows you to see where you have already searched as well as what you have. My current arrangement was by surname, which got cumbersome rather quickly. That’s when I switched to chronological. If I use the PDF format, I can create an index that will allow me to navigate the file easily. I was thinking that one file for every two years of the journal would be useful, but I will have to make that decision when I see what I have. I’m still reorganizing it.

Going forward organizing the journal chronologically is likely the best solution, although it is useful to have it by surname. What I think I will end up doing is creating a series of cross reference pages, by surname. That way I can find the information that I want quickly and easily. Compiling to PDF, I can even have that cross-reference in the OneNote file and find the volume that I want. Then I can search in there by having an index of that file as well. Active indexes will let me navigate to the information I am looking for. it might be a two-stop process, but it will be easier than searching by turning pages. It will definitely be better than duplicating my research.

A research journal can also give you an idea of places to look again for updated records. It’s a good idea to keep a journal of your research. Even if you just do the bare bones of a list of what you searched for and where you looked, it is an invaluable tool to put in your research toolbox.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in Family History, Hobbies

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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