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:
- Read each statement thoughtfully—each sentence or paragraph.
- 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.)
- Appraise the provenance and plausibility of the information given in the source.
- Note weaknesses in the interpretations and conclusions that have been drawn from the information.
- List the associates involved in each document or event.
- 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.