Why You Need a Research ReportJun 27, 2023
Yesterday I had a consultation with a potential research client who was seeking answers about his family's history and his father's military service. He had previously hired another military researcher who gave him a couple of documents and no other information. He was a little confused about why this other researcher did what he did, why he only obtained a couple of documents, and where he actually got the records when I asked questions. Had the other researcher provided a research report, even a brief summary instead of a formal report, things would have been clearer.
This isn't the first time someone has come to me with a few documents, no answers, and no research report to document what was searched. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily - but it depends on what you need.
What Kind of Research Do You Need?
The first question to ask yourself is what kind of research do I need? Am I capable of understanding the genealogy and military documents without help, so I only need someone to pull records for me? Do I have people I can ask for help if I get stuck? If your answer is yes, then great.
Now, I will also say, if you are a family history researcher doing this on your own, keeping track of what you have searched, what you discovered, or did not, is also important. This advice isn't just for those seeking to hire a professional genealogist or military researcher. A paper trail of documents received, where they came from, notes on what you discovered in each document, and maybe most important - the discrepancies, conflicting, or bizarre information you discover, should be documented so you can find other records to help determine what information is accurate and what is "possibly" accurate and what may be an error.
Another question to ask yourself is, do I need assistance because this is outside my wheelhouse and I need records pulled and also explained so I know how to proceed and what it all means? If your answer to this is yes, then great!
The choice you make depends a lot on your knowledge level, budget, how much time you have to dedicate to a project, what you would like to learn, and your goals for the information received. There is no right and wrong but there can be a considerable waste of time and money if you don't first consider what you really need and what a researcher provides.
Some professional researchers provide only records. You request certain things within a certain period of time for the ancestor you seek information on and you receive the records. Other professionals provide a more comprehensive approach which includes not only the records obtained but a research report so you, the client, knows what your money was spent on and what information did and did not exist.
A research report is extremely helpful if you need to hire someone else or need a paper trail because you are doing research in chunks as time and money allow. The researcher you hire next will find the information valuable and will know what not to duplicate which saves you time and money.
Why might researchers offer one service versus another? It depends on the business goals of the professional. Are they only interested in pulling records for clients or do they choose to do more in-depth projects? It's all professional preference although some of it is also impacted by the level (or lack of) education and experience a professional has. A lot of professionals throw up a shingle after doing a personal project and little to no education - whether formal or self-taught or a mix.
How can you know what a professional really knows and how much experience they have? Read their website. Do they demonstrate they have the knowledge? This goes beyond client testimonials. Have they been educating themselves - whether through a degree, continuing education, or exploring a niche and developing research strategies and techniques? Do they publish? Do they teach or speak? No matter what field a professional is in, when they are willing to learn new things, explore what others are not, develop strategies, techniques, and solve problems, those are normally your better researchers.
In the end, hiring a professional genealogist or military research is about personal preference and what you need. There is no right or wrong - just information on options available.
Are You Ready To Learn More?
What have you discovered about your ancestor’s war traumas through the military or genealogical records? Are you ready to start your research or writing project? Do you need assistance in exploring family traumas, patterns and ancestral healing? View all my services and book a free consult today and let’s talk about your needs. All clients receive a research report so you know what was discovered, what was not, and what's possible to still discover.
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