[ arbor : tree ] + [ borealis : northern ]

Cautionary notes

Scope :

These cautionary notes form part of the Terms and Conditions governing use of the website, Arborealis.

Standards of research :

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, including the identification of research questions which could not be resolved.

Inconclusive findings :

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.

Risks of taking shortcuts :

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 the greater likelihood that your family tree will wind up as a complete fiction.

How to minimize risk of producing faulty research :

My advice is to read, read, and read some more. Adopt a healthy skepticism in your research approach. Attend a course in research standards and methodology. Pick up creditable books on the subject. One could do worse than Google™ 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!

Alison Kilpatrick
Genealogist, local historian, & editor, Arborealis

See also :

End notes :

Source citation for this page: — Kilpatrick, Alison. “Cautionary notes” (about conducting research to exacting standards). Published to Arborealis, online at, accessed [Insert date of access].

All rights reserved.

Updated 22nd Nov. 2023.