The first step in using the Genealogy Proof Standard provides a method to examine all the evidence that may be relevant to the question you are seeking. This will reduce the chance that any undiscovered information may surface at a later time.
Exhaustive research is to search for every available source. Reasonably exhaustive research is not as widespread. Focusing instead in the area that other records have indicated.
Six criteria for a reasonably exhaustive research.
- Minimum of two separate records that confirm each other. Many records contain errors for various reasons. If you use only one for your justification, what happens if it is not correct? The two items must be separate and cannot be based on the other.
- All sources that a competent genealogist would search. Including those that are likely to answer the research question, and those that may give a different answer.
- Primary information – hearsay is more vulnerable to errors even though it may have details that are useful. Conclusions may contain hearsay, but at least one supporting piece of evidence must be based on an eyewitness.
- Original records – Derivative records and authored works are also known to contain many errors. Just as above, using one of these records is allowed as long as at least one supporting piece of evidence is from an original record.
- Relevant authored works, derivative records & secondary information replaced by findable corresponding originals and primary information. These are all easily obtainable, but if more reliable evidence can be found, it should be used instead. You may use these types of work, only when more reliable information could not be found.
- All findable sources that relevant sources and indexes suggest – When other information may suggest another piece of information/record exists, use the other information also.