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Research Mindset

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The Finding-Knowing Gap

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Across my office on a bookshelf, I have a book called The Knowing-Doing Gap. Not surprisingly, it is about the difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it. It is a book about management, not about genealogy but I was reminded of it the other day. What reminded me was a thought or […]

Researching the Undead

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

In a big project that I’ve been working on, there has been a large cast of supporting characters. People who weren’t goals of the research but who were necessary to the research. Now, as I work on the book that is based on that research, I’ve realized that I have left a few people hanging. […]

Path of Least Persistence

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

The next time you meet someone who is fairly new to research, try to notice what mode they are in. You just might be able to help them out a bit. By “mode,” I’m thinking of the classic optimist/pessimist difference that is contained in the old question about the glass—is it half-empty of half-full? Almost […]

The Path of Logic

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

I’ve taken a bit of a holiday hiatus from writing about research. So far, I’ve written about repeatability, openness, goals, and searching the literature. Another important part of research is the logical path that connects the evidence signposts together and leads to the conclusion. Part of the research process is to pave that path and […]


Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Another facet of research is that it starts with a goal. The goal may be fairly general. For example it might be to gather information about a certain surname in a certain area and during a certain time period. Often, though, the goal relates to a hypothesis. Goals and Hypotheses In most research a hypothesis […]

Genealogy Literati

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Literati, (plural noun) – well-educated people who are interested in literature. One of the most important things about open research is that it makes it possible not just to check research but to avoid repeating it unknowingly. In science, no one wants to turn in a grant proposal for an experiment only to be informed […]

Holding the Door Open

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

This week, I need to start where I left off last week, with reproducibility. This week comes a facet to research that overlaps greatly with reproducibility—openness. If reproducibility is central to true research, there must be some way to see inside what someone else has done. It must be possible to understand not just the […]

Research, Rinse, Repeat

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

What is “research”? It seems like a simple question but it isn’t. What does research look like? What properties should it have? Research takes many forms, has many entries in the dictionary and can mean slightly different things in different fields. It can involve experiment, observation, testing, fact finding and theory development. In my old […]

Down the Rabbit Hole

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

By all accounts, Kurt was a strange man, insane eventually. He was paranoid and his life came to an end when he starved himself, fearing that he would be poisoned. Kurt was also brilliant. Not many people took their evening stroll from work at The Institute of Advanced Study with Albert Einstein. Kurt was a […]

Docents for Descendants

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Our ancestors are more than people. They are slices of times and places that we would know little or nothing about without them and we shouldn’t remain ignorant of those times and places despite them. They are our tour guides. We receive private showings of times and places that most people only vaguely realize exist. […]

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