22    Oct 20117 comments

Poll results: Citing your sources

I will be the first to admit that this week’s poll wasn’t the most successful we’ve run on the blog- somehow citations didn’t elicit a particularly raucous response from the community! That said, of the 123 responses that we did receive, it was clear that views on the subject were fairly polarised.

25% of respondents deemed that if a source isn’t cited, it doesn’t constitute research. The largest group of respondents (38%) agreed that “most” of their sources were cited. Surprisingly, over 33% had either “tried their best” or seemingly didn’t know what a citation was.

For the ease of effort that goes into citing sources (especially with modern software tools) you can benefit from the peace of mind and the ability to share your research with professionals and others. I’d highly recommend starting to cite your sources from day one, however.

Fortunately, MyHeritage products make citing your sources a cinch. Here are a few useful pointers for getting started:

Family Sites
- Click on ‘People’ in the top navigation bar of your family tree.
- Search for the individual that you’d like to cite a fact for.
- Click on ‘+ source citations’ towards the bottom of the page.
- In the left hand panel, click on ‘All my facts’
- You can then simply add a citations by clicking on ‘Add a source citation’ underneath each fact. The system also allows you to upload images (of census documents etc.) for those who want to complement their manual citations

Family Tree Builder
- Click ‘Edit’ on any individual’s card.
- Then click ‘Edit Details: Individual’s name’
- If you then click on the ‘Citations’ tab you can add a source from the drop-down menu. You can add sources just below the drop-down menu for easy replication throughout your tree.
- You can then provide a ‘Confidence’ rating over the source, a date, the original text and additional notes.

Now that we’ve told you how to add those essential citations for both of our product offerings, there really is no excuse!

Remember that genealogy without citations is mythology!

Search for your ancestors:

Comments (7) Trackbacks (0)
  1. i haven't tryed it yet but iam going if it's free like it says .
  2. it ' good
  3. so far, your "source citations" are the thing I like LEAST about your site! I have just been adding my sources as comments, such as putting in a DOB and then putting "per 1900 census" and giving the place, etc. I really really dislike the way your source citations are set up.
  4. Agree with Donella. I have created source citations which contain specific data. Later, I choose the same citation for another individual, and it carries the exact same data to that person, which I don't want. If I change the information, it changes it throughout. So I have to create different citations with the same title and different information for each specific record. Do you provide guidelines on how to label citations?
  5. I find this distressing. First, that so few would respond to such an important question in geneaolgy/family history work.

    Second, that such a small portion of folks would see and acknowledge that documentation is a critical part of the process and not optional.

    I believe the industry, especially the major players in it, need to take a more active and proactive role in this issue.
  6. EXACTLY Sally. I didn't get specific, but yes. primarily, that is my complaint.
  7. I realize that it's very tempting for a novice to disregard the process of collecting citations for each document they review. Sadly, this laziness will only serve to discredit their research and make their job more difficult in the future.

    When I've reviewing documents, I try to pay close attention to how each person's name is written, birth dates and places, death dates & places, where they were living at the time, and ANY other clues the documents provides - including information about other family members.

    Just try to think of the process as "evidence collection". While some sources will obvious hold more weight than others, I would still aim to present your information in such a way that allows for your readers to make their own judgments as well. There will be many cases where several conflicting sources will make some facts remain up for debate.

    When using Family Tree Builder, I usually use the Text From Source field to summarize what the source document implies. For instance, I would put something something "Supports Jan 1890 NY birth" when culling information from the 1900 census. If uncertain of the birth month, you can always say something like "Implies 1899-1900 NY birth". (It also helps to place any information about the parents names here when transcribing a birth certificate.)

    If you maintain the discipline of recording your citiations in this way, you will find it much easier to compare your evidence and get a little closer to the truth.

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