TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2009-08 > 1250981410
From: Tom Jones <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] Are research reports published?
Date: Sat, 22 Aug 2009 18:50:10 -0400
To Elizabeth's excellent advice I would add that in some circumstances
it is possible to craft part of a genealogical research report, to
oneself or to a client, in the form of an essay that is a viable
submission for a scholarly genealogical journal. My article in the March
2009 /National Genealogical Society Quarterly/, "Logic Reveals the
Parents of Philip Pritchett of Virginia and Kentucky," is an example of
a scholarly article that arose from a client report. I structure my
reports in several parts, including a brief undocumented "executive
summary," a detailed thoroughly source-cited essay explaining the
project's conclusions, and a roughly chronological
repository-by-repository listing of sources with annotations, abstracts,
transcriptions, and photocopies --- raw and partially processed data.
The Pritchett article came from the essay part of my report to Mr.
Pritchett. After tweaking that section to bring it closer to an article
style, I submitted it with the client's permission. The journal's peer
reviews and meticulous editing process led to further improvements. The
published article, however, still closely resembles the essay portion of
my report to Mr. Pritchett. Another example, for a different client, is
my "Dilley of Northern Virginia and Ohio: A Proposed Solution Hanging on
a Single Word," /The American Genealogist/ 79 (July 2004): 220--27.
From time to time you will see articles based on client reports in
/NGSQ /and other scholarly genealogy journals. They are recognizable
when the author acknowledges the client's agreement to publish the
information. Such articles are more likely possible when the reports are
of the analytical variety, presenting the solution to a complex problem,
rather than a simple report of sources found or information they
contain. /NGSQ /is most interested in publishing analytical essays when
some aspect of the essay will interest readers having no special
interest in the family or region. Other journals, especially those with
a regional or state focus, have different restrictions, and they may
serve as a "journal of record" for findings regarding the state's or
region's families. My view is that any research that advances knowledge
should be published. Consequently, genealogists seem remiss when they do
not seek publication of their research results, whether personal or for
clients, in appropriate venues. All research fields bear an obligation
to publish new findings, and genealogy beyond the hobby level is such a
While some academic fields publish relatively unprocessed data, my view
(after a career in academia) is most academic journals want processed
data discussed in the context of prior research and with implications
for current practice and future research. They also want some discussion
of sampling, data collection, instrumentation, research design, and data
processing -- all sufficient for other researchers to replicate the
research and its results. In a very broad sense, academic essays address
criteria analogous to those applied to the genealogical articles most
Litchman-type groups are studying. ---- Tom
> Your questions involve several issues, though they all center around the
> issue of research reports. I'll tackle them separately.
>> Are research reports ever published in article form?
> A research report and an "article" in a magazine, journal, or newspaper are
> two different things. An "article" written on the subject of how to write
> client reports might well include a sample research report, exactly as
> written. However, newspapers, magazines, and journals focus upon analytical
> pieces that synthesize technical points into a narrative for their readers.
> That narrative is essentially an essay, regardless of the "level" at which
> it is written. Newspapers, of course, write to the "most accessible" level.
> Magazines tend to write to an intermediary level--accessible, but typically
> non-technical. Journals tend to write to a more-advanced level, with source
> citations, etc. But publishing a "raw work product" such as a research
> report, is generally not done by these forums except as an appendix. You
> will, of course, find "raw work products" published online at personal or
> corporate websites. You will also find local and regional genealogical
> societies that will publish almost everything submitted, whether it's a
> research report, a compiled genealogy (which is not a research report
> although some software programs call it that), or an analytical essay. But
> these, almost certainly, will not have undergone real peer review (aside
> from those at the BCG website).
>> I'm looking for our field's equivalent to academic journals where a
> researcher publishes research results without the restriction of creating an
> What academic field are you speaking to, here? I can't think of any
> academic journal in the humanities that publishes raw research reports. All
> the respected journals publish highly analytical and synthetic essays that
> draw broad conclusions from multi-faceted projects that have been wide,
> deep, and ongoing.
>> A research project can vary in size. Small ones might be close to article
> length. Not sure, because the ones I write for myself use
> abbreviated citations, and I haven't collected all the pieces into the
> report (abstracts, transcriptions, etc). Probably means I'm not writing
> research reports. <g> I find writing them for myself to be extremely
> helpful in my research process. I don't use them at the 'close' of a
> project. I use them when I think I've finished a specific phase, or if I
> feel I've reached a point where I should seriously reflect on what I'm
> doing in that piece of research. I suspect 'project' or 'assignment' could
> be used to refer to research on many scales, resulting in
> publication in many forms at different times in the research process.
> Here, you seem to speak of research reports on your personal work, rather
> than reports in response to a client assignment. Either way, you are
> approaching things well, based upon your description.
> Simply put, a research report is a report of a block of research you have
> done. If we use a set of microfilm at the FHL, if we do a spell of research
> online, if we go to a repository to do research onsite, when we finish that
> block, we should write ourselves (or the client) a report that does the
> 1. Define the problem, the person(s), and the parameters we placed upon the
> 2. Identify the repository or sources.
> 3. Identify any problem in the use of that repository or sources.
> 4. Record our findings, together with any analytical comments we feel
> 5. Identify what we need to do next, based on the results of this block of
> As you know from ProGen's chapter on reports, this is not as time consuming
> as it sounds. We can keep a standard template in our computer for handling
> 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. When we start a block of research, we take a couple of
> minutes to define the problem and identify the resources we plan to use.
> Then, as we use those resources, we make our abstracts or transcriptions
> right there in the report. If one source leads us to others we didn't
> identify to start with, we just add them into the section for (2) above. If
> a finding suggests consulting something we can't get to in this project,
> then we add it to the section for (5) above. When we're done with that block
> of research, then we think through the notes we've just taken and add into
> the report any overviews, insight, or whatever we draw from the whole.
>> Research reports as described on the BCG site
> (http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/worksamples.html ).
>> I suspect 'project' or 'assignment' could be used to refer to research on
> many scales, resulting in publication in many forms at different times in
> the research process.
> Yes, but from the publication standpoint, good publishers want final
> results--not work in progress--knowing that "conclusions" made on the basis
> of partial research are highly tentative and highly subject to revision or
> disproof entirely.
>> Anyway, I would like to read research reports of other researchers,
> preferably ones with proof arguments. Peer-reviewed, hopefully. And I would
> be very happy if they were relatively short--article length, not
> multi-volume book length.
> You also referred to "Research reports as described on the BCG site
> (http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/worksamples.html )." I'm
> assuming that your use of this site included not just reading its
> "description" of research reports, but also an examination of the various
> peer-reviewed reports published at the site for instructional purposes.
> Beyond this, various companies and research professionals do publish sample
> reports at their websites. Have you Googled for "research reports"
>> I've been participating in a NGSQ Study Group for about a year. I've found
> myself experiencing the same dissatisfactions each month, across the range
> of articles/authors on our discussion schedule. I finally realized much of
> my reoccurring dissatisfaction is because the articles on our schedule were
> not the kind I would most like to read. There's probably little wrong with
> the articles other that my expectations don't match their purpose or scope.
> I'm looking for our field's equivalent to academic journals where a
> researcher publishes research results without the restriction of creating an
> This leads back to the remarks above. Academic journals in the humanities do
> want essays created at the conclusion of a project, not "interim results"
> that simply lay out all raw and unfiltered data that may later be discounted
> as the project progresses.
>> I think the research report scope may come closest to what I'm seeking.
> Primarily because ALL findings should be included in a research report, not
> just ones necessary for the reader to understand the problem posed in a
> journal essay
> It does appear that what you are looking for are the interim reports. As I
> mentioned above, you can find a fair number of these online. However, it
> will not be easy (outside of the BCG website) to find the *peer-reviewed*
> research reports you seek. This is not to say that research companies do not
> have any oversight of the reports they send out. Most do. But corporate
> review is not the same as peer review.
>> as advised in the description of the NGSQ editorial process
>> This is not to say I don't enjoy reading the articles that are printed. I
> do! And I have been learning a lot from reading case studies! Case
> studies, as I'm finally beginning to understand them and what they're
> supposed to include (and exclude), are a great way to focus one's attention
> on the author's analytical process, which is what the Lichtman model is all
> about. It's just that I'd like to also read articles
> reflecting the purpose of a research report.
> In one sense, probably the most common sense, your phrase "articles
> reflecting the purpose of a research report" invokes the concept of a how-to
> article---i.e., the purposes of a research report are a,b,c,d; and those
> purposes are accomplished by doing 1, 2, 3, 4."
> However, from all your discussion above, I'm inclined to think that what
> you're seeking are "more examples of research reports" so you can see how
> researchers handle each phase of a project. Yes? No? If yes, then I don't
> know of a place you can go to find a series of reports, each dealing with
> successive phases of a specific project, that eventually led to conclusions
> published in a journal essay/case study. Other listers might--or one of them
> may have put such a collection at his or her website.
> Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
> APG member, Tennessee
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|Re: [TGF] Are research reports published? by Tom Jones <>|