Part II. Avoiding Pitfalls in hiring a professional researcher or research company

Part II. What about A Genealogy & Family History Research Company versus a researcher?

There are advantages and disadvantages to an individual researcher versus a research company. The major differences are in the scope, number, and quality of services provided. Most people underestimate the amount of work and the number of services that can and should be part of research.

As identified in Part I, much depends on the specific research company or researcher. The same would hold true for a doctor, dentist, or lawyer by himself versus a company or firm without staff. How many of the other services or the quality of services you want may determine whether you go with an individual or company. An individual may or may not do many things well. Since most research involves multiple tasks this factor alone may make a company more feasible. If you have a limited task requirement, and are willing to do more of the work yourself; an individual researcher might work for you. (ex. You want research done in England, 1800-1900 time period, already have all your information organized and possibly computerized, understand the time period documents, sources, and can read them, and are willing to do all but researching of books, films, etc.)

Questions to ask:
How much do I know about research, genealogy programs, data entry. If little, a company is better. The more you can do and know; the more an individual for a specific research need (location, time period) may work.

Pros & Cons of an individual researcher versus a Research Company –
Services Provided or needed
Understanding each of these services and the pros and cons of an individual versus a company are critical.

Website, handouts, samples, education
Note: As a general rule, many individual researchers don’t have a website, some don’t even have a web page. Be prepared, many individuals do not answer calls, emails or letters, or return them promptly, unless they know you’re ready to order or aren’t busy. The more you require the less they will like to do for you unless you handle large budgets. Many individuals do not have samples and the quality of research reporting varies greatly. Remember they are researchers not marketers or educators. They may not take the time to answer your questions in depth or know how to explain things at a level other than their own. Pro – Company, Con- Individual

Order forms, check lists, proposals
Since they are individual researchers they may not have forms, just type a few words on a paper or you tell them and they go do it. The problem is that many are not good note takers and may not complete all your requests. Pro – Company, Con- Individual

Account Management:
Calls – follow-up on items they need, items you need or receive, etc. Availability and timeliness in making and receiving calls.
Visits – pickup, drop-offs, availability and timeliness.
Education – what your getting and why, terms – patronymics, diatrics, naming patterns, geography, languages, boundaries, record types, categories, availability, etc. Availability and Capability.
Pro – Company, Con – Individual

Sifting: organizing, sorting, and reviewing family information on a particular person, surname/lastname etc.
Data Entry: computer genealogy programs, research calendars, correspondence
Reports: research summaries, reports and calendars/logs
Copies: copies of originals from client, working and deliverable copies, other relative copies, correspondence copies
Some individual researchers do not have computer skills or are good at it. Capabilities and Quality control measures. Pro – Company, Con – Individual.

Many may only send a note or email. Few have forms and standard processes or reminders. Most do not have programs or payment plans. Capabilities.
Pro – Company, Con – Individual

Initial review, preliminary research for proposal
Verification Research
Original Research
Heir/descendant research
Research Summaries
Research Calendars/Logs
The quality of reports, calendars/logs, and deliverables will usually be better with a Company. An individual may be better with time frames for delivery or lower cost if they are not doing any clerical. An individual will not have peer review, brainstorming with others, quality control measures, discussion of research methods as they might in a company. Capability and Quality. Pro – Company, Con – Individual

Quality of what I receive – understandable, organized.
An individual will not usually be concerned with anyone other than themselves understanding what they are providing while a company may have several staff reviewing work and explaining reports to clients. Pro – Company, Con – Individual

While additional categories and subcategories of these services could be listed and explored in most cases a Professional Research Company will provide more of these services that fit the needs of most clients. Individual needs for services may very and in some limited cases an individual may meet those needs better.

Part I of Avoiding Pitfalls, has a Tips and Checklist that should also be consulted when reviewing an individual researcher or research company.

For further discussion and analysis we recommend consulting the professionals at: ForGenerations – 801-947-1897 or 877-400-4554.

Comments are closed.