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DNA and the GPS

The gold standard for genealogical proofs is the Genealogical Proof Standard — the GPS, for short.


Synthesized by the Board for Certification of Genealogists between 1997 and 2000 from decades of work by the best minds in our field, the GPS clarified, organized, and compiled the field’s best practices to give us all a standard to whch our work can aspire.

Its five elements — reasonably exhaustive research, source citation, analysis and correlation of evidence, resolution of conflicts in evidence items, and a soundly reasoned written conclusion — must all be present in order for a genealogical conclusion to meet the GPS.

When first published by BCG, of course, DNA was barely in its infancy. Even when the Board published the work Genealogy Standards in early 2014, more fully discussing what it means to meet the GS in our work, the full scope of DNA’s impact on our field hadn’t yet been felt.

So, now, BCG has made it clear that it intends to more fully incorporate genetic evidence into Genealogy Standards. A committee tasked with reviewing the issue has proposed new and amended standards, and the Board is inviting public comment on the proposals.

In other words, all of us who are working to bring DNA into our research as much as we can get a chance to weigh in of these proposed standards. This means all of us, whether we’re starting out or well along the journey. Everyone in the field can speak out.

The critical questions are what among the proposals makes sense? What doesn’t? What’s clear? What’s confusing? What needs more emphasis or less?

In short, if we were judging our own work by these standards, would we be able to reach a considered judgment as to whether what we’d done was a good job or perhaps needed more work?

A copy of the proposed DNA standards in PDF format can be downloaded here.

Public comment can be submitted using the form here.

The deadline for public comment is 23 July 2018.

This is a critical step forward for DNA as part of genealogy — getting everyone as much as possible in the same mindset on what it means to have reached a genealogical conclusion based in part on DNA evidence.

Take a look, think it through, and weigh in.

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