If you have researched very long, you know the frustration of locating a piece of promising information only to learn no source is given. Or maybe a source is cited, but when you track it down, you find it says something entirely different. So, how can we stop this reckless practice of slipshod genealogy?
As one who has been researching many years - ok, I confess; I'm old - I have definite ideas on being a responsible researcher.
As a responsible researcher, I stand behind all the work I do, but I do not take credit for the work done by anyone else. If I work on a group project, the work is not mine alone. It is a joint effort and all participants are recognized.
Being a responsible researcher also means that I cite my sources correctly and completely. This allows other researcher to easily locate that source. If Aunt Betty tells me her parents married in 1902, the source of that information is Aunt Betty. However, if I obtain a copy of the marriage record, I can use that marriage record as the source of my information.
Because I am a responsible researcher, I will never knowingly pass along erroneous information. If there is doubt in the validity of the information, I will indicate that is the case. If another researcher provides me with proof that I have incorrect information or have reached an incorrect conclusion, I will not be too proud to accept the fact that I was wrong or to correct my records.
As a responsible researcher, I will treat all courthouse records with respect. I will not mark or maim any records. If portable scanners and cameras are not allowed to be used to copy records, I will abide by this rule.
As more experienced researchers once helped me, I will patiently answer questions from novice researchers and will not take over their research. Allowing them to learn how to research will provide them with the same pleasure in accomplishment that I have enjoyed.
A common complaint among us "old timers" is that novice genealogists are content to search online only and have no idea what can be found in courthouses. I believe it is our duty to promote good research practices and to share our knowledge on locating, using and recording genealogical information. If we fail in this, we are letting down our successors and are not giving genealogy the respect it deserves.
Copyright by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog