Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rate Your Genealogical Maturity

Want to be a better genealogist? Take the inventory below to identify a baby step you can take to become a better genealogist.

In each table below, read the descriptions for each level. Place a check mark in the row that best describes you. If you have any questions about the meaning of words, read “Genealogical Maturity Model (GMM) Definitions.”

Sources

# Level Sources Check
1. Entry

Typically relies on compiled genealogies.

 
2. Emerging

Mostly relies on compiled genealogies and online sources.

 
3. Practicing

Uses a limited number of record types and repositories. Mostly relies on online and microfilmed sources.

 
4. Proficient

Uses a wide variety of record types. Often contacts record custodians to obtain copies of high-quality sources.

 
5. Stellar

Insightfully pursues research at multiple, targeted repositories, making use of a plethora of records and record types. "Burned counties" are not roadblocks.

 

Citations

# Level Citations Check
1. Entry

Captures URLs for online sources and citations for published sources.

 
2. Emerging

Increasingly captures necessary information for manuscript sources.

 
3. Practicing

Typically produces complete source citations.

 
4. Proficient

Gives complete and accurate source citations including provenance and quality assessment.

 
5. Stellar

Overcomes limitations of genealogical software to create well organized, industry standard reference notes and source lists.

 

Information

# Level Information Check
1. Entry

Typically does not realize the need to judge information quality and has no basis for doing so.

 
2. Emerging

Emerging realization that information quality differs. Muddles evaluation by thinking of primary/secondary sources instead of primary/secondary information, leading to muddled evaluation when sources contain both.

 
3. Practicing

Judges information by source type, informant knowledge, and record timing. Applies "primary/secondary" to information instead of sources.

 
4. Proficient

Additionally, learns history necessary to recognize and evaluate all explicit information in a source.

 
5. Stellar

Additionally, utilizes implicit information in a source. Finds information in cases like illegitimacy that stump most researchers.

 

Evidence

# Level Evidence Check
1. Entry

Limited understanding of evidence and the role it plays. Typically ignores conflicting evidence.

 
2. Emerging

Captures direct, supporting evidence and increasingly depends upon it.

 
3. Practicing

Additionally, captures directly conflicting evidence.

 
4. Proficient

Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, supporting evidence.

 
5. Stellar

Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, conflicting evidence.

 

Conclusions

# Level Conclusions Check
1. Entry

In the absence of analysis, reaches conclusions by instinct.

 
2. Emerging

Learning to evaluate the quality of sources, information, and evidence. Emerging ability to resolve minor discrepancies.

 
3. Practicing

Additionally, resolves conflicting evidence or uses it to disprove prevalent opinion. Usually applies correct identity to persons mentioned in sources.

 
4. Proficient

Additionally, when necessary creates soundly reasoned, coherently documented conclusions utilizing direct and indirect evidence.

 
5. Stellar

Additionally: Publishes clear and convincing conclusions. Teaches and inspires others.

 

Conclusion Trees

# Level Conclusion Trees Check
1. Entry

Merges or combines individuals in trees without evidence.

 
2. Emerging

Growing hesitancy to merge or combine individuals without evidence.

 
3. Practicing

Never merges entire compiled genealogies into own tree. Contributes or changes community trees only with evidence.

 
4. Proficient

Manages evidence separately from conclusion tree. Not interested in trusting high quality conclusions to a low maturity community tree.

 
5. Stellar

Publishes highly respected conclusion trees.

 

 

Review the categories and pick one to work on. See what you need to do to advance from your current level to the next level. Make that your goal. Don’t try and work on all categories at once. Baby steps. Don’t try to skip levels. Baby steps. Commit to yourself and focus your efforts on that one, little goal.

Once you’ve accomplished that goal, come back and pick another area for improvement.

What Level Are You?

This next exercise is optional. It is a non-scientific method of determining your “genealogical maturity.” Write your level number in the table below for each category above. Add up all the numbers and write the total in the last row.

Category Level
Sources  
Citations  
Information  
Evidence  
Conclusions  
Conclusion Trees  
TOTAL  

 

In the table below, find the range that includes your score. Your genealogical maturity is listed on the same row.

Range Maturity Level
6 - 11 1.  Entry
12 - 17 2.  Emerging
18 - 23 3.  Practicing
24 - 29 4.  Proficient
30 5.  Stellar

 

Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t a five, or a four, or even a full three. No level is good or bad. It’s just like kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, and high school. There is no shame in having gone through the levels. That’s normal. And remember, these levels are not scientific.

The important thing is that you concentrate on the small, realistic, measurable, baby steps that will make you a better genealogist.

8 comments:

  1. There seems to be a conflict between "Publishes highly respected conclusion trees." and "Typically relies on compiled genealogies."
    So it's mature to compile a genealogy but not to use a compiled one.
    I have also run into some of the "mature" ones who are "Not interested in trusting high quality conclusions to a low maturity community tree." They don't share their research online and if they are waiting until it is "highly respected" they likely never will. Even is they did, Your "mature" genealogist wouldn't look at it and so it would never be highly respected.

    The "mature" genealogists I know are collaborating and helping people - something you don't even mention. You seem to be treating it as a solely individual (even competitive) venture. Your "mature" genealogist can neither accept or give help because they must only be looking at original record sources from official custodians. They can "teach and inspire" but not collaborate.
    I understand that you probably meant the steps to build on each other and not supersede. But the "Conclusion Tree" levels seem to encourage people to become more selfish and elitist.

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  2. Would love to translate this to Finnish and publish on a web page. Could you let me know if that would be OK, naturally with proper credit to you?

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  3. Thanks for this. I have begun to assess my "genealogical maturity" using your model. I am posting my results on my blog. It's a beginning. I appreciate Dave Green's comments about collaboration. I will somehow build that into my own self-assessment.

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  4. I will assess myself with your maturity chart, I have some very different views in this area. But I will elaborate on my blog;
    genealogyisruthlesswithoutme.blogspot.com
    Thank you for posting and opening up this important question of maturity of genealogy.

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  5. I have just finished with my personal assessment, final part to be posted tomorrow. (http://GeneaPopPop.blogspot.com)

    As a result of using your model, I would suggest two additional areas for assessment, both are somewhat hinted at in your model, but not elaborated upon: 1) Collaboration (What level of collaborative proficiency do I exhibit? This could include: random acts of genealogical kindness, sharing with & receiving data and sources from others, blogging...) and 2) Story-telling (Can I convert data into coherent and accurate stories about the people and families in my genealogy? To what degree, do I integrate general historical data into the stories?) As a genealogist who falls into the primary sub-category of "family historian" (rather than "professional genealogist"), my primary focus is the discovery and publishing of the stories that reside in the data (rather than just collecting, documenting, and publishing the data). I do not mean to suggest that a family historian is not concerned about the accuracy of data and its sources, nor that a professional genealogist only cares about the data and its sources. I believe, however, that there is a subtle difference in focus.

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  6. Your readers who are also teachers may recognize the model as a rubric. Each statement can be phrased as an intended learner outcome for the student.

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  7. Would love to translate this to Dutch and publish it on my blog. Could you let me know if that would be OK, naturally with proper credit to you?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Bob,

    Yes, you have my permission. Please leave out the "Conclusion Trees" category. I'm now leaving it out to focus efforts on the Genealogical Proof Standard.

    --The Insider

    ReplyDelete