One-Armed Bandit Research

A post on Facebook today from my Californian genimate, J Paul Hawthorne, mentioned the term “One-armed bandit research“. As I hadn’t heard of this method I followed  the link Paul shared.

It took me to a post on the Advancing Genealogy Blog by Debbie Mieszala. In her post “Teaching Your Genealogical Dog a New Trick: Research Plans” Debbie describes One-armed bandit research :

One-armed bandit research is a blast, especially when a new database rolls out. Plug in a few names and hope for a jackpot. There is no planning. Little consideration is given to location, record type, or if a specific genealogical research problem has been identified. Is it lousy research?

Well, no. It’s often how we find surprises. Our ancestors did not always behave as predicted and sometimes pop up in the strangest of places. So, the one-armed bandit method has its merits, but we should never believe that it is the only way to conduct research.”



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