Addressing questions about the professional genealogy survey

From now through next Tuesday, 26 February 2013, I am conducting a survey of anyone identifying themselves as a professional genealogist. For more details and the link to the survey, please read the announcement here.

First, I would like to thank all of those professionals who have taken the time to respond to my survey. The more people respond, the more accurate this portrait of our community will be, and the better we might understand ourselves.

I would like to also respond to some of the questions I have received in various forums.

1. This survey is completely anonymous. At no point do I ask for your name or any contact information. I do ask for the ZIP code for US residents. I am gathering this information as a way to map out where US professional genealogists live. Do certain areas have a higher concentration of professionals than others? If so, do these areas correspond to high population centers, active genealogical societies or APG chapters, or major genealogical repositories? (Or is there some other factor that might affect the concentration of professional genealogists?)

Several people have pointed out that I might be able to identify respondents using their ZIP code. I can only assure respondents that I will not do that. I am not interested in individual data—only the collective statistics. I will not share the ZIP codes with anyone else. When I discuss the results, I will only discuss in terms of states or regions.

2. The survey is lacking in international representation. I definitely want input from international professional genealogists. I simply don’t know a lot of the intricacies of international genealogy communities. This ignorance is most glaring when it comes to the membership organizations and educational opportunities available. Please complete the survey anyway. There are a few free-form boxes for membership organizations and educational opportunities where you can input your responses.

3. The survey is not just for those who conduct research for clients. The sole qualifying question is whether you consider yourself a professional genealogist. You do not have to conduct client research, you do not have to be credentialed, and you do not have to be a member of any particular organization. In fact, part of the goal of the survey is to capture data from those who consider themselves professional genealogists but may not fit into older models of what a professional genealogist is and does.

4. The survey does not require any answers about income. It does ask a few questions about income, but these questions offer “Decline to answer” as an option. Money is always something that people get rightfully anxious about discussing.

There were other questions concerning income that I considered asking. For example, what percentage of your income stems from research, writing, lecturing, etc.? However, I decided that two or three questions about income were more than enough. Perhaps in a future survey, these other questions can be asked (whether by myself or by someone else).

For the sake of uniformity, and recognizing that my reach is somewhat geographically-limited, all questions concerning income are in U. S. dollars. For international members who use other currencies, please try to estimate a conversion into U. S. dollars if you choose to respond to those questions.


I hope these additional explanations help to alleviate some of your concerns. To take the survey, use the link in this post.

5 thoughts on “Addressing questions about the professional genealogy survey

  1. Pingback: Creating a portrait of professional genealogy « Planting the Seeds

  2. Michael, There was no place on your survey to note past associations, credentials, memberships. I’m assuming you’re surveying primarily those professional genealogists actively working as researchers. I still consider myself a professional genealogist although I no longer take clients or maintain my professional memberships.

      Mary Clement Douglass Transcribing & publishing Kansas genealogical records

    “If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.” – George Bernard Shaw


  3. This survey I found a bit troubling. I feel like there is a lack of transparency in terms of detail, such as how will the data be analyzed, who will the data be shared with, how will the data be stored, what will be done with the data, how will the data be protected since it is to be anonymous.
    Doing genealogy research and doing survey research are two different things. What are the qualifications of the person who designed the survey , who will analyze the data, etc
    I have the flowing concerns in that I feel this is somewhat misleading in regard to the survey:
    1 This survey is completely anonymous.
    The survey is not completely anonymous; one can easily be located by the details they provide in the survey.
    2. The survey does not require any answers about income.
    Seeing that statement one assumes that no questions about income will be asked, but they are. Unless you read all the text you don’t know that.

    • I will be analyzing the data myself and sharing it in this blog. The survey is being hosted by SurveyMonkey. Once the survey has been completed, I will be downloading the results and deleting the survey.

      My responses about the anonymity and questions about income have already been answered, in this very post.

  4. I tried to keep the survey answers in the strictest past tense. But that necessitated answering none of the above on several questions. Examples: I’m currently in ProGen, I’m attending IGHR this year for the first time, my business entity has been operational less than a year. If I were to fill this survey out 6mo from now my answers would be very different in several instances.

    Wishing you luck and strong participation. I look forward to the results of your survey.

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