Evidence analysis is the proverbial thorn in the thumb for many history researchers. We’d love to gather blossoms from the rose garden and make beautiful bouquets from them. But those darn thorns have to be dealt with in the process.
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10 Ways We Build Our Own Brick Walls
We hear it everywhere: “I’ve hit this brick wall!” ... Or worse, “I’ve hit this brick wall. This problem just can’t be solved!” ... Or even worse, “I’ve hit this brick wall. There’s nothing more to be found. So I’ll just make a decision on the basis of what I already have.” Ah, yes. Frustration, hopelessness, and folly.EE Mon, 12/17/2018 - 11:53
Does This Call for a Source Discussion or a Proof Summary?
Mary is perplexed. As a family researcher, she has found a derivative source (a newspaper account) that mentions an original court record. But diligent efforts to find the original have been fruitless. How does she report this? she asks, in another forum. As usual, she received a variety of opinions. As usual, there were substantial contradictions between them and some confusion over concepts. Let’s try to iron out a few of them.EE Mon, 12/10/2018 - 17:56
The Disciplined Researcher's 20-Question Guide
What is your success rate as a researcher? Does every effort advance your goals or bring you closer to resolving a specific research problem? Do you invest hours that generate no relevant information at all? Do record sets and databases never seem to yield the needed answers to your key questions about events and identities, associations, and relations? Or have you amassed great quantities of data that remind you of the Shakespearean line about “much sound and fury, signifying nothing”? ...EE Tue, 09/08/2015 - 09:31
Criticism? Who wants to be critical? We do. Or we should. Criticism, used appropriately, is a powerfully positive force. The critical evaluation of all material we use for authenticity and credibility—aka textual criticism—is ...
18 March 2015 A recent discussion of proof arguments triggered a common question: Why can’t we just ‘let the documents do the talking’? Unfortunately, documents don’t talk. They may lie, but they do not talk and they cannot ...
Best Practices for Reliable Research
2 December 2014 In every piece of dependable research, we see eight qualities ...EE Tue, 12/02/2014 - 07:00
26 November 2014 We have a research problem. Records of the right type exists for the time and place. We search them, page by page. No record has the information we seek. What then? We have two choices ...
24 September 2014 Every field has its distinctive vocabulary. The word "document," for example, evokes a quite-different expectation in the mind of one who does historical research vis à vis, say, a software architect. The following basic vocabulary is ...
Information Is Not Knowledge
29 August 2014 Contrary to the old cliché, facts do not speak for themselves. Facts are chameleons whose shape and color reflect their handlers. A beginning researcher and a skilled one can read the same information in a record and draw two separate conclusions, based upon ...EE Fri, 08/29/2014 - 07:00