Monday, June 8, 2020

Methodology Monday-The How and Why of Writing Sound Conclusions

GPS Element Number 5: Soundly written conclusion based on the strongest evidence.[1]

The fifth element in the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) can sometimes seem overwhelming. Maybe you are not feeling confident about your writing? 
Understanding what and how- plus some practice will help.

What is a Sound Conclusion and how do we write one?
 Writing about the process of answering our research question is simply sharing what we know and why we know it. Sound means that our writing makes sense and has the evidence to back it up.

Depending on what our research question was and what type of records and documents we have collected our written conclusion can be:

 Proof Statement-the answer to a research question easily with records that are credible with no conflict. These records would typically be original with primary information. When this is the case, a simple few sentences followed by source citations is all that is necessary. What was my question, how did I answer, and here’s my proof? Short and sweet.

Proof Summary -longer than a proof statement due to the number and types of records used to come up with a conclusion. The evidence for a proof summary should come from sources that include primary, original evidence with some being independent of each other.

There are different ways to write a proof summary. The conclusion can be written at the beginning or the end of the narrative. Bullet points can be used to show the reasons for your conclusion. 

Proof Arguments- used when a question that is harder to prove and a simple proof statement or summary is not enough to explain how you came to your conclusion. 
They usually involve complicated evidence with questions not easily answered.

The beginning typically states the question, what is known about the person you are researching, and what you believe the conclusion to be.

The middle will lay out all the information you have found and give the details as to why you have reached your conclusion. This should be easy for anyone to read and follow. For this section, you can use charts, maps, lists, or any other type of visual that will help to show the results of your research. The whole point of this section is to show that you feel you have answered the question and why. 
The end will sum everything up and once again state the question and the conclusion 

For Each Type
Write clearly in a narrative format with foot or endnotes for our sources.  Many suggest a “write as you go” process. As you are consistent in writing where and when you searched, what you found and what your analysis shows, it becomes easier to plug this information into a written conclusion no matter the type.

To help you with your writing, read examples from genealogy journals such as The National Genealogical Society Quarterly

Look to see what else is available Nationally, State, or published by local societies.

The written conclusion is the last step in the Genealogical Proof Standard. In it, we show we have followed the other GPS elements and are working hard to do our best work. Other researchers can be assured that we have come to the best answers to our questions with the records available and know that they can trust our research.

Understanding these concepts and along with practicing by writing as you go will build your confidence in your writing and help you fulfill this element of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Helping you climb your family tree,

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, second edition (Nashville, TN: Ancestry, 2019), 1–3.

No comments:

Post a Comment