I've just finished this exercise, based on a suggestion from a book Dae had suggested to me. I'm posting my introduction and the summary sections of my report. Hope it is of help to other beginners.
In Chapter 7 of The Researchers Guide to American Genealogy, Val Greenwood suggests that each researcher give himself periodic research reports. You expect to receive these when you hire a professional genealogist; when you “hire” yourself, both of your aspects deserve the value of these reports.
The book suggest that the reports should contain the following six items:
“1. An explanation of the problem.
“2. A notation of the records you have searched.
“3. A statement of your reasons for searching these records.
“4. Your findings therein.
“5. Your interpretation and evaluation of these findings as they relate to the problem (in whatever detail is required).
“6. An outline of the problem as it now stands and suggestions for further research.”
The author indicates that these things need not be formally numbered; nor do they need to be presented in the above order; but the report should be checked to be sure that “all bases are covered.”
SUMMARY: In my first attempts to get information on specific early connections, I contacted several people who generously shared information with me. This has lead to a database containing 3,161 names as of October 2009. PHASE ONE of this report details that help and gives the main surnames for whom they have provided information.
I also began to research virtual and physical locations which might contain information necessary to developing a list of our ancestors and their relatives (our family tree). Some of these locations may hold information about our family history or else hold references to other locations where these records may be found. PHASE TWO (Learning about Research) details the resources for learning and for research which I have found at this time.
The only names in our family tree for which we have GPS “proof” of existence are Sue STRICKLER Watson McCORMICK and Robert Francis McCORMICK. (More research is necessary for Sue — the marriage and divorce records of her first marriage are not yet found.)
NEXT IMMEDIATE GOALS: A professional genealogist would clearly state the next goals to the existing research. My goals cannot be stated in clear-cut specifics. My first concern at this time is to carefully organize the results of the actual research which I have accomplished. I need to set up clear, consistent citation styles for each type of record I have collected and I need to be certain that each resource is cited for each individual person in my program for whom we have a source. I also need to set up a clear filing system for the storage of all physical copies of source materials.
My next research goal is to find GPS verification for Robert STRICKLER, Adelle DORRANCE, George Frank McCORMICK, and Sally ATON.
There are about three more pages of specifices; I thought the idea behind the exercise and the specific summary results might help other beginners.