Shannon Bennett, Student
What’s the biggest complaint among serious hobby or professional genealogist? Do you know? Well, from the comments I have seen and heard, that would be source citations. More particularly, the lack of them. Are you guilty of this, because if so when you take Methodology, Part 2 and get to module 6 you will find out why citing your sources is important.
On the first page of the module you learn why citing your sources is critical:
These two items are the underpinnings of good research practices. People who read your research in the future must have confidence in you. They have confidence in you because of the types of materials you use. Those researchers know what types of sources you used due to the citations you create. Without them how do they know where you found that information? For all they know you could have made it up.
Through the module you will learn what elements need to be recorded to have a complete citation. One of the elements a lot of people may not realize is important is including a description of the location you retrieved the information from. For a website it could simply be a list of the clicks you preformed (Ancestry.com > 1880 US Census > Indiana > ….) that way you or someone else could get back to that exact page. Or if you visited a brick and mortar building you should include information on which collection you looked at and any particular identifiers another researcher will need to follow on where they should look for this information (County Courthouse > Clerk’s office > Collection name > …)
The key is consistency. If you choose to use your own method, the suggested way in the module, or the examples from Elizabeth Shown Mills book Evidence Explained stick with one and do it that way for everything you create. Use the same style, punctuation, italics, etc. for every citation you write. It will help you and not leave you second guessing what you wrote down.
One last important note. Source citations are a fundamental part of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). The GPS, set by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), is what serious researchers use as their guidebook. If you don’t have a copy of their standards manual you should think about picking one up. Every researcher needs a copy on their shelf.
Remember, cite your sources! Make you work look great, give it credibility, and make it easy on the next genealogist in your family. They will thank you for it, and you will be happy you did it too.
See you online!