The client research report is a unique part of the BCG certification portfolio in that it must be presented exactly as it was sent to the client -- no cleaning up typos or anything else! -- and it must be accompanied by the client's permission for use and the client's statement of the question to be answered.
In theory it should be easy to choose which report to include, because we can't tinker with it or improve it. And in practice that restriction should emphasize the most important portfolio piece of advice after "follow the directions": Never, ever, submit the first one you did of anything. (Well, it's important to me. If I had followed it I would have been certified two years earlier!) In other words, we want to have enough client reports on hand so that we can choose the most appropriate, not have to hold our nose while choosing the least inappropriate.
Ideally the client report will show what we can do; an impeccably conducted and typo-free lookup in a published index is not going to impress. But success at answering the client's question is important too. There's nothing against submitting a well-done, on-target, thorough report that did not reach an answer. But we do have to say whether we think the client's objective was met. It's probably easier to show what we can do with a report where we were, um, able to do it -- but that is not a requirement, and there could be a report that showed great skill but didn't succeed in reaching the research goal. A particular concern here is that we do in fact direct our research to the client's actual question, not some nearby question that proved easier to research. (That only seems like a funny sort of mistake to those who haven't faced the temptation yet.)
There are plenty of options for those who haven't had any clients, including lurking on surname or locality lists and offering to do research pro bono for inquirers, in exchange for their allowing us to use the report in a portfolio. So why have it as a requirement? (As in all these posts, these are my personal opinions with no official sanction of BCG -- or anybody else, for that matter.) It's valuable because it shows how we deal with being dropped into a family that we've never studied before, and having to get oriented quickly and formulate reasonable plans. Trust me: it's completely different from working away on your same old own family!
Tomorrow: Requirement #6, the proof argument AKA complex-evidence case study.
Harold Henderson, "Portfolio Choices for BCG Certification, Part 3 of 5: Client Report," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 16 September 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]