Cautionary notes

Every effort has been made to present genealogical research and local history studies which have been conducted to exacting research standards. These standards include codes of ethics governing data collection, critical analysis, interpretation, and presentation of findings. Research conducted ethically is based on integrity, honesty, and academic rigour. The result is work that is reliable and credible, and includes identifying research questions which could not be resolved.

Any findings presented on Arborealis which are not definitive and require further enquiry will be noted very clearly. Having said that, by using this site, you agree not to hold me liable for any errors or omissions. As a genealogist or historical researcher who subscribes to high research standards, you already know that you should corroborate my findings.

If you choose to take shortcuts or if you are simply in the business of adding thousands of names, dates, and places to your family tree without due care for the integrity of the sources, then you are doing the family and historical research communities a serious disservice … not to mention, your family tree will likely wind up as a complete fiction.

My advice is to read, read, and read some more. Adopt a healthy skepticism in your research approach. Attend a course in research methods. Pick up creditable books on the subject. One could do worse than Google™-ing for such search terms as: academic or genealogical research standards, research methods, proofs of evidence, and so on. Finally, know when to say when: that you’ve run into the proverbial “brick wall;” that you need the assistance of a capable and reputable commercial researcher; that further research is required; or, that the resources required to solve a research question might well not exist. This latter point is so important: not every research question can be answered and so, we have to acknowledge the end of that line of research and learn to live with the ambiguity.

Best wishes with your research!


Source citation: — Kilpatrick, Alison. “Cautionary notes.” Published to Arborealis, online at arborealis.ca/about/cautionary-notes/, accessed [insert date of access].