Analyzing Compiled Material "On the Fly"


27 June 2014

You have accumulated a body of "findings" about an issue you are investigating—or you have received one from another researcher. Have you streamlined a process for analyzing that material to identify its weaknesses, warts, and opportunities?  Here's one that may help:

  1. Read each statement thoughtfully—each sentence or paragraph.
  2. Appraise the source of that statement—assuming that a source has been provided, of course. (If it hasn't, its absence can speak to reliability as well.)
  3. Appraise the provenance and plausibility of the information given in the source.
  4. Note weaknesses in the interpretations and conclusions that have been drawn from the information.
  5. List the associates involved in each document or event.
  6. Itemize the resource or methodological possibilities that each of the above presents for exploring the problem further.

You'll find many other helpful suggestions in EE's QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer's Guide to Individual Problem Analysis—A Strategic Plan.