Can we add a Research Heading automatically when profiles are created?

+23 votes

When a profile is created, we automatically get ==Biography== and ==Sources==.  

Can we add a third option above sources of ==Research Notes== ?  

There has been a lot of discussion about the importance of research notes for why changes have taken place (by changes, I mean MAJOR BIG changes like detaching a spouse), why unusual information is correct, where information came from when it is not a primary/secondary source and findings while researching.

I think it should become a standard for members to leave notes for all of the above reasons on every profile.  A standard research notes section will help keep things tidy and will help others who come along including Data Doctors and Arborists as well as anyone wanting to source, clean or biobuild a profile.

Thank you!

in The Tree House by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (662k points)
edited by Emma MacBeath
I like this as well.  I have been doing this in the comments but this seem much more appropriate and permanent.

The current style guideline is to place the Research Notes heading between the Biography and the Sources headings:

I see Jamie already mentioned that below!

I actually knew that, but didn't realize I had written my request as "under the sources."  I have edited it.  Thank you for the heads up Lindy.
I disagree.  I add research notes about a third of the time.  I see no reason to make it mandatory, and I say this in full realization that almost all the time I agree with you.

If all the sourcing and referencing are done in a proper and scholarly fashion, reference notes (as a == heading ==) would in my view be unnecessary. In the guidelines WikiTree prescribes a protocol that does not facilitate scholarly reseearch. Only sourcing in a very rudimentary fashion. Without metadata this is sort of a hopeless situation for future validity. In this sense I agree Emma that the referencing form as it is prescribed by WikiTree is wanting. What we have done in the {{Dutch Cape Colony}} project is to create a form of referencing that includes sources and notes. See this example - a profile that I'm currently researching. The fact that the resource notes here (under the heading == Sources ==) are in four different languages, is unfortunate for those who only understand English. These notes are derived from sources and narratives though in at least two other languages.

Enforcing a separate == Research Notes == section on already heavily (and still being researched) profiles as these, would be impossible or extremely disruptive to tens of thousands of current profiles. The bio's of hundreds of thousands if not millions of other profiles will have to be restructured as well.

The protocol for editing and adding information should be revisited, not the the form of layout.

7 Answers

+14 votes
Best answer
I think that is a good idea.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (830k points)
selected by Charlotte Shockey
I agree,
Agreed. Helps for those who forget about adding that option if they can't find resources.
Me too. This would be helpful.
Yes, I agree. I do use Research Notes where there is contradictory evidence and think that having this category added automatically would be a good idea.
I have come around to doing it by default, mostly to use as a whiteboard. My standard template is BIography, Timeline, Research Notes, Sources. Biography, I typically only use for millitary service, occupation, or exceptional achievements. Also, for excerpts of published bios or obits with a lengthy discourse about their life. Timeline gets all the facts, Research Notes gets any conflicts, concerns, questionable data, and acts as a things to do list. It also doubles as a See Also for sources that are interesting but not used for whatever reason. I wish there were a way to separate the references visually though.

I work on profiles pretty much at random, so a notes section is valuable to keep track of where you are in relation to the spider web of their familial links. If you are working off a census, you may get parent's birthplaces, children, siblings, and other extended family right off the bat. That all goes into Research Notes until I have time or inclination to create their profiles.Many times I have moved on but someone following up will know immediately where to start if they want to add more detail.

Until I know a woman's LNAB, her information or at least links will go in the Research Notes of the spouse or eldest child. At least the info is close at hand for anyone interested in the immediate family. After typing it out a few times, Notes is looking better, easier on the eyes and fingers. is an example of what I use it for.
+7 votes
Like.  But there are two issues

- where to put the footnotes.  Should it be possible for research notes to have footnotes?

- the biggie - should notes have a small 'n' or a capital 'N'?
by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (561k points)
footnotes ( <reg> tags), always are displayed wherever the <references/> tag is.

I've seen some people add an actual == Footnotes == heading. I like that. Otherwise they default to being after the == Sources == heading.
The snag is, <references/> only outputs refs that precede it.


== Biography ==

== Sources ==

<references />

== Research Notes ==

Blah blah <ref>Blah</ref>

doesn't work.

Choice of


== Biography ==

== Sources ==

<references />

== Research Notes ==

Blah blah <!-- no footnotes here -->



== Biography ==

== Sources ==

== Research Notes ==

Blah blah <ref>Blah</ref>

<references />



== Biography ==

== Research Notes ==

Blah blah <ref>Blah</ref>

== Sources ==

<references />

so I like my footnotes to come at the end, so I put my <references/> tag at the very end

I also like my research notes to come before my sources

It all mostly personal preferences.

Not quite so - the browser builds the page sequentially.  When it gets to a <references /> tag, it displays the content of all the <ref> tags that it has already passed.  If there are more <ref> tags after the location of the <references /> tag then they will not be displayed.

You can see an illustration of this in profiles that have not been cleaned after merge ... the ones that have two Sources sections, where each one has a <references /> tag beneath it.  The first Sources section will display all the citations in the first Biography and the second Sources section will display all the citations in both Biography sections.

For what it's worth, I very often add a section ==Notes== which I place immediately below the biography but above the Sources just for that reason - so that I can use citations in the Notes section.

I prefer the word Notes to Research Notes because I use this section for explanations of things in the Biography that may need expansion, as well as discussion of topics like disambiguation, conflation, etc.  Please see THIS PROFILE for an example.

There are already standards for research notes. == Research Notes == above the == Sources == heading.
Sounds like RJ's choice (c) is what Dennis, Jamie, and I are all in agreement with.  The only exception is that I prefer to call it just plain "Notes" instead of "Research Notes" because the things I put in that section are very often embellishing information, rather than actual research notes.
Glad you found the standard Jamie.  I happen to agree with them and put my research notes right above the sources :-)

however,... adding them by default to all new profiles, may be unnecessary overkill (as Ros suggests).

+6 votes
Sorry, I don't agree.  We should be explaining changes in the 'Explain your changes' box on the edit page anyway, and if there is a source that isn't primary, then we should put it under 'See Also'.

And what about the 99.9 % of profiles I have created which have been uncomplicated, without conflicting info etc?
by Anonymous Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
But then point of the Research Notes is to explain where you've looked if you can't find any sources so others know you've already exhausted that search & tontry other avenues. Most don't look for that in the changes tab. :)
that's a good point, its probably not needed on most profiles
The "Explain your changes" entry is not displayed on the Edit page - it is only displayed on the Changes page.  The "See also:" is used as a subheading of Sources for any sources (primary or otherwise - sometimes just links to websites with additional information on something relevant) that were not used as evidence for facts stated in the Biography section.

I could see putting notes that are not relevant to the Biography itself in a comment section on the Edit page ... that way, anyone planning to contribute to the profile would see it when they open the Edit page without littering the View page with information that is extraneous to people who just want to read the biography.

This carries the problem of people who don't take the trouble to read what is there before making changes, which also happens with what is on the View page.  No matter what is done, the bottom line is that it will still take educating people to pay attention to what is there before making changes!!!
Ros, when I biobuild my profiles, I use the Research Notes section to comment on what additional information I would like to look for (mostly a reminder for myself) and what pieces of the profile may not yet be sourced. There doesn't have to be any conflicting or unusual information about the profile to write notes about the research itself.  The deeper I dig into researching a person, the more notes I have.
Ros, I also edited my comment to reflect what I meant about noting changes.  I don't mean every day changes, but BIG changes such as detaching parents from a profile (so they don't get reattached).

What we put in the explain changes box does show on the profile when you look at the profile page...

However, I really don't like (and I've tried it) when I have a complicated profile that has an issue in multiple sections putting all of the issues in one makes the reader have to go back up and look at what I'm talking about (it does me, and it just adds to the confusion). If there is a conflict with the birthdate (all sources say something different) I note it in the birth section, if there is an issue with the children in one way or another I note it in the children's section. If I have an issue in more than one section I just find it easier and more expedient to keep the notes with the issue.  One example is Williams-1577

+5 votes
Great idea, Emma. The ==Research Notes== should be ahead of ==Sources==. Just my choice. Even if there are no notes, having the space is a good idea. I'm going to start incorporating it in profiles I source, connect, bio, or just plain clean up. So the new make up is:



Genealogically Defined (if applicable)


Research Notes


by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (200k points)
That's exactly how I line it up on the profiles I biobuild :-)
When was "Genealogically Defined" added to the mix?

Or is that just your personal preference, Bob?
"Genealogically Defind" was added in the Bio Builders Challenge several months ago. It isn't a WT criteria, just Bio Builders. The idea is to have sources for the major life events (birth, including parents, marriage, children, if any, and death). If a profile is Defined, it becomes a stable building block going up or down in a family tree, and removes uncertainty about someone's origins.

In fact, I'd like to add that "Research Notes" is the perfect place to document why your bio is not yet genealogically defined!

Edit to add: I'm not agreeing that Research Notes must be part of the static profile generation, but do agree that it can be an important part of the profile, because it's used for more than what the Explain Your Changes box covers.

Eric, I like the idea of documenting "why" a profile is not Defined.  Actually, it would show what is missing/needed to complete the profile.
+13 votes
Emma, I agree with Ros.

The vast majority of profiles have no need of a research section.  Either the profiles are simple and there is nothing to put in this section.  Or, the genealogy is already well worked out and there is nothing of even the slightest amount of controversy to address.  Less than 1% of my profiles have need of == Research Notes == so I would just end up deleting it anyways.

The second point is most people here seem to be arguing for a personal style that suits their needs and preferences, much of which does not match existing guidelines.  If I had my way every profile would have a === Birth === section, a === Marriage and Children === section and a === Death === section so that the key genealogical data points could all be properly addressed and sourced.  But I know this is just a personal style.  As it is the guidelines say nothing should go below the == Sources ==, the </references> tag belongs immediately this, and that a Source list  (e.g. Bibliography, works cited, etc.) if any would go below this.

So I am not really in favor of adding something which I generally consider to be clutter which I need to delete.

What I would be in favor is a research, tab which Magnus has been advocating, so that there is a place to discuss a profile without messing with the biography.
by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (204k points)

As it is the guidelines say nothing should go below the == Sources ==, the </references> tag belongs immediately this, and that a Source list  (e.g. Bibliography, works cited, etc.) if any would go below this.

Minor point; I believe your statement, quoted above, is incorrect, Joe:

We should all probably operate under the presumption that most of what we add to a profile will eventually be removed, reworded, revised, etc.

+3 votes
After years of not really knowing what I was doing I thought I had it right. I put

== Biography ==

== Sources ==

<references />

== Notes ==
== Acknowledgments ==

Then in one of the few contacts I've had I was told to call it "research notes". Now I'm wrong again. We need a complete breakdown of exactly how they want any and all categories and an easily accessible "how-to" guide.
by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (276k points)
In my opinion, its the same difference. Doesn't matter. Personal preference.

its open text, and its a heading marker, call it what you'd like. There are only two that are required for style consistency.
You are not wrong.  You can do whatever you want with your own profiles.
+4 votes
Probably a majority of profiles do not need a "Research Notes" section, but some do, and I suppose it wouldn't hurt for that to automatically appear when you create a profile:


==Research Notes==


<references />

See also:

As long as <references /> is at the end, it will pick up footnotes in both the narrative and the research discussion.

Having Research Notes there when the profile is created serves as a reminder that genealogy is more often than not about research, and when you fill in the narrative you can always delete Research Notes.

I personally rarely use the section, because with pre-1500 profiles the entire biographical narrative is really research notes.  Birth:  when, where, who says, and who disagrees?  Marriage:  To whom, when, who disagrees, and what are the alternatives?  That's why inline sourcing are so important especially for the earlier profiles.  Even the things that seem non-controversial today suddenly become controversial tomorrow when you're reviewing a new source.  And then it becomes not only research but discussion and evaluation.
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (338k points)

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