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Archiver > APG > 2006-02 > 1140490196

From: "Drew Smith" <>
Subject: RE: [APG] Cite Your Sources!?
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 21:49:56 -0500
In-Reply-To: <4544252.1140476922097.JavaMail.root@mswamui-cedar.atl.sa.earthlink.net>

If you have two conflicting pieces of genealogical evidence, and your
personal knowledge isn't adequate to determine which piece is more accurate
than the other, on what basis do you decide which piece is more likely to be

The labels we have been discussing ("original" and "derivative" for sources,
"primary" and "secondary" for information, "direct" and "indirect" for
evidence) are useful ways to make concrete the types of mental processes we
go through to evaluate the information we use to attempt to solve our
genealogical questions. And when we explicitly use these labels, we help to
make our mental processes visible to clients or to other genealogists so
that they can decide whether our conclusions were reasonable or

This is part of what I frequently refer to, when teaching the research
process, as "making the invisible visible". When we write down the
invisible thoughts we generate during our research, we make it possible for
others to fully understand why we have reached the conclusions we've
reached, and it becomes easier for others to help us identify possible
errors in our thought processes. When we return to our own research after a
long period of time, these labels can also help to remind us why we reached
the conclusions we did.

So these labels can save us time, they can help us organize our thoughts,
and they can better communicate our thoughts to others.

Drew Smith

> -----Original Message-----
> From: [mailto:]
> Sent: Monday, February 20, 2006 6:09 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: [APG] Cite Your Sources!?
> IMHO, one can talk about citing sources (original,
> derivative, whatever) until the cows come home but I think
> all of this discussion is a hair-splitting endeavor. The
> bottom line is the "accuracy" of the source. I have lots of
> "original" sources that are inaccurate. We've all seen them.
> I trust my knowledge that my father was married at the time
> of his death over his death certificate which lists him as a widower.
> Isn't the accuracy -- or the perception of the accuracy --
> far more important than derivative, etc.?
> CheriC

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